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  • Brian Dozier Learned from 2012, Looks Forward to 2013

    While a lot of people will be betting on the Super Bowl this weekend, Brian Dozier is looking to show the Minnesota Twins brass and the fans that he is worth betting on for the long haul.

    Following his 2011 season, during which he was named the Twins minor league player of the year, expectations were high, maybe too high, for the now-25-year-old shortstop from the University of Southern Mississippi at the start of the 2012 season. After starting the season with a month in Rochester, the Twins promoted Dozier to the big leagues. He made his debut on May 7 against the Angels. In the bottom of the 8th inning, he came up and singled to center for his first MLB hit. When he returned to first base, Albert Pujols patted him on the helmet and told him, “Congratulations! You look good up there. First of many!”

    Dozier certainly experienced some great moments during his rookie season. On May 13, he hit his first big league home run off of Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. Days later, he hit his second homer against Rick Porcello. Home Run Number 3 game against Chris Sale of the White Sox. He then hit homers against Tommy MIlone of the A’s and Alfredo Aceves before hitting his sixth and final homer of the season off of Cy Young winner David Price.



    However, overall, he hit just .234/.271/.332 (.603) and the day after his homer against Price, he was optioned to Rochester where he finished the season.

    At Twins Fest, Dozier said, “First time it ever happened to me where stuff carried out into my defense. Trying to change things on offense, I got too much zoned into working on my swing and I got away from my approach. I’ve always been a guy to walk a lot, but my approach was just all over the place, going up there, swinging at pitches I don’t ever swing at. You get away from that. You try to change. You think it’s your swing, but it’s really your approach before you even get up there. “

    In addition, Dozier added, “Looking back, I only had two or three bunt base hits. I had about 25 the past two years. I only had eight walks (Seth Note – Actually 16), the year before, I had 60.”

    After walking in about 10% of his plate appearances in the minor leagues, he walked less than 5% of the time in his 340 plate appearances with the Twins in 2012.

    Beyond the approach, Dozier also fought his mechanics. “I started off and everything was going good. My hands were up here [Dozier illustrated to the group that his hands were up high, above his back shoulder], and then I started dropping my shoulder, and you can’t do that. You really can’t. You just get comfortable up there. I had a little skid, 0-15 or something, and you think it’s your swing. A lot of information, and I started changing way too many things that you shouldn’t change.”

    What was Dozier’s biggest take-away from his rookie season?
    “You’ve got to be consistent, and that’s the biggest thing I learned. You’ve always heard that preached to you. It comes into perspective in that aspect. You’ve got to be real consistent up here and that’s the big thing that I got away from. But, like I said, after I got sent down, I just had to get back to my roots, being a consistent, sound baseball player. So that’s what I’ve done and I’m good to go.”

    Dozier summarized his first big league experience by saying, “It’s a good rookie year for me,” which may seem a bit strange until hear the rest, “I learned a lot.”

    It was a full off-season for Dozier. “I went down to Venezuela to get some work in at second base. While I’ve been up here (in Minneapolis), I’ve been working with Molly (Paul Molitor) on turns at second, just to make sure I’m comfortable so when spring hits, whatever Gardy sees fit, and Terry (Ryan).”

    Dozier was only in Venezuela for a short time, but it served its purpose. “It was good. I got some work in, especially at second base. I got a few at bats too, but I was really down there just to get some work in at second base.”

    He continued, “Normally in the offseason, I work strictly at short, but this time, I spent a lot of time at second base. I didn’t take time off, to be honest with you. I was going to take a little time to re-charge, but you know what, you’ve got to stay sharp. “

    He also had a pretty good role model and teammate to talk with. He spent a day this offseason hanging out with Josh Willingham and his family. “We always talk. We hit just two days ago at Target Field.”

    Dozier is excited for the opportunity to work with the Twins new hitting coach Tom Brunansky. Brunansky was Dozier’s hitting coach in 2011 at New Britain, and the two worked together again last season in Rochester.

    “Joe (Vavra) is awesome, and he’s helped me a lot. But me and Bruno have worked together the past two years. He’s a good one. He really is. (We) have developed a good relationship, not just with baseball, but with everything. He’s a good one, a guy that spent 13 or 14 years in the Bigs, he knows his stuff. He knows it, the grind and everything. I was hitting at the field the other day, and he sneaks in behind me, and right there, he says, ‘I like that. I like that.’ He’s ready to go. He’s fired up.”

    Manager Ron Gardenhire said that there will be competition in spring training for the middle infield positions. He also would like to see the situation resolved in camp. “Well, I hope it’s resolved. I mean, I hope we have a little better inkling of it. I think we have some talented people, and we’re going to throw them out there and let them go at it. Try to figure out the best combination, and if it turns out to be combinations, we’ll just go that way. Whatever’s going to help us win ball games, and catch the ball.”

    Speaking of the competition in the middle infield, Dozier says, “Competition is good. That excites us. Competing against a bunch of good players, but at the same time, I’m ready. I’ve got a lot to prove.”
    Is Dozier under the impression that he is going to be a second baseman? “Let’s not rule out shortstop, first of all, because I feel really comfortable at short.”

    As he acknowledged, 2013 will be a big year for Brian Dozier. He learned a lot from that rookie season and hopefully he will be able to take that information, learn from the struggles, and get back to the basics. “You’ve got to make adjustments along the way, but you also have to stay within yourself… I’ve got to get back to sound baseball, and I was getting away from that.”

    “We’re good. You guys put that (in your articles). We’re Good!”
    This article was originally published in blog: Brian Dozier Learned Lots from 2012, Looks Forward to 2013! started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 50 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Morneau was pretty good when he got called up... It was his sophomore season that was utterly disappointing.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      If he truly has learned from last year and commit's to the disipline in his approach this year, then he's capable of pulling off a .680-.700 OPS, which really isn't that much to ask. Other than that he just needs to make the plays the team needs him to make in the field, not much else.

      He's really the only hope at the plate this year in the MI from a SLG standpoint, he just needs to work a few extra AB's consistently and we're good.............and then there's Pedro.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Isn't Span a pretty good example of a player fans gave up on? He fell completely off a lot of top 40 Twins prospect lists when his stats looked pedestrian. Hopefully, Dozier is another one of those guys who has the potential to be more than what meets the eye of the fans.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Isn't Span a pretty good example of a player fans gave up on? He fell completely off a lot of top 40 Twins prospect lists when his stats looked pedestrian. Hopefully, Dozier is another one of those guys who has the potential to be more than what meets the eye of the fans.
      The good news is that Span is an excellent example of a player who seemed to have hit a low ceiling after several years in the minors, and then suddenly turned into a quality major leaguer. The bad news is that when most people think of that kind of player, they're going to think of Span because of how rare an occurrence that is.

      But Span is probably an encouraging comp in one way, which is that he had about the same number of plate appearances in the minors as Dozier does when Denard finally saw the light. Dozier is older than Span was because of playing college ball, but the experience levels are similar.

      The James projection for Dozier in the majors in 2013 is roughly .250/.300/.370. If he can really manage that and play a passable short and second, he'll be an affordable utility guy for several years.

      If he can add a tick of power or OBP to that and play a little above average d at short by working on smart guy things like positioning, he'll be a poor man's Jason Bartlett minus the freakish season.

      If he hits a little worse and plays ok at second, he's Steve Lombardozzi senior, a guy who won't kill you but who never lets you stop thinking about how to replace him. Either way, he seems like a sharp kid, and I'll be pulling for him to have a major league career of some stripe.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      I have absolutely no faith in Gardenhire or his group of flunkies to develop a decent middle infielder. To the best of my recollection it hasn't ever happened under Gardenhires tenure.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      I have absolutely no faith in Gardenhire or his group of flunkies to develop a decent middle infielder. To the best of my recollection it hasn't ever happened under Gardenhires tenure.
      The failure to develop a MI is NOT on Gardenhire it is on the Minor League coaches. Generally by the time the reach the majors they should be mostly there and just need a little polishing/fine tuning.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      But Span is probably an encouraging comp
      Encouraging indeed, because finding merely an average CF or SS is not that easy to do. Dozier doesn't need to become a star in order to have a huge impact on his team, much like I always viewed Greg Gagne as crucial to the championship teams.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      The failure to develop a MI is NOT on Gardenhire it is on the Minor League coaches. Generally by the time the reach the majors they should be mostly there and just need a little polishing/fine tuning.
      I agree, but I would restate what fairweather said. I have no faith in Gardenhire to acutally want to keep a decent middle infielder when they come along. I can think of two decent SS that this team has had since Guzman, and both were traded for meager returns in large part because Gardy didn't like them.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I agree, but I would restate what fairweather said. I have no faith in Gardenhire to acutally want to keep a decent middle infielder when they come along. I can think of two decent SS that this team has had since Guzman, and both were traded for meager returns in large part because Gardy didn't like them.
      I assume that that the 2 you are referring to were Hardy and Bartlett. With both of those, I don't recall Gardy disliking either of them.

      He did have an issue with Garza and he and Bartlett were packaged to bring in Young, but I don't think that Gardy had an issue with Bartlett.

      Gardy on the other hand did have in issue with Hardy, and that he was too slow and often injured.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      Bartlett is still out there. Should we go after him?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      I assume that that the 2 you are referring to were Hardy and Bartlett. With both of those, I don't recall Gardy disliking either of them.

      He did have an issue with Garza and he and Bartlett were packaged to bring in Young, but I don't think that Gardy had an issue with Bartlett.

      Gardy on the other hand did have in issue with Hardy, and that he was too slow and often injured.
      Gardy's dislike may not have been personal, but he disliked aspects of both shortstops' game to the extent that it was widely assumed at the time of each trade that he had instigated for it.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Rays signed 2B Kelly Johnson to a one-year, $2.45 million contract.

      It's a low-risk deal for Tampa Bay that could potentially yield some high rewards. Johnson hit just .255/.313/.365 in 581 plate appearances last season for the Blue Jays but he has good power and his steady presence at second base will allow Ben Zobrist to exercise his defensive versatility. Johnson may be worth snagging in the later rounds of mixed league fantasy drafts this spring.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Rays designated SS Elliot Johnson for assignment.

      The Rays also designated Reid Brignac for assignment on Tuesday, leaving Yunel Escobar on his own at the top of the shortstop depth chart. Johnson, 28, hit just .242/.304/.350 with six home runs and 33 RBI in 331 plate appearances last season for Tampa Bay.

      Source: Marc Topkin on Twitter
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Rays signed 2B Kelly Johnson to a one-year, $2.45 million contract.

      It's a low-risk deal for Tampa Bay that could potentially yield some high rewards. Johnson hit just .255/.313/.365 in 581 plate appearances last season for the Blue Jays but he has good power and his steady presence at second base will allow Ben Zobrist to exercise his defensive versatility. Johnson may be worth snagging in the later rounds of mixed league fantasy drafts this spring.
      Yeah, Dozier!!! Woo!!!

      Wait, what?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Sheesh, how did that happen? Again, the Twins, just one of many to miss out there.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Encouraging indeed, because finding merely an average CF or SS is not that easy to do. Dozier doesn't need to become a star in order to have a huge impact on his team, much like I always viewed Greg Gagne as crucial to the championship teams.
      I had avoided comparing Dozier to Gagne because I'm not sure his defensive ceiling at short will approach what I remember Gagne's ability being, which was maybe just shy of Gold Glove, but very good. He had the disadvantage of his entire career overlapping that of HOF'ers Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith. Gagne was an above average player, but because he didn't hit 25 dingers a year or perform two cartwheels and a triple Lutz before every throw to first, he was never really given his due. And you're exactly right, quality regulars like Gagne are every bit the building block of champions that star players are.

      So defense aside, here's Dozier's James projection again next to Gagne's career average:

      BD: .253/.300/.372
      GG: .254/.302/.382

      And since it doesn't seem like Dozier shares Gagne's frustrating propensity to chase bad pitches all the way into the stands if necessary to get a bad swing at them, I think 'Dozie' stands to regain some of his 10% or so walk rate from the minors and maybe boost his OBP 10 or even 20 points. That, combined with average or slightly better D at short, would add up to a fine ballplayer, and ease much of the pain of the decade-long revolving door at shortstop. Fingers crossed.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Sheesh, how did that happen? Again, the Twins, just one of many to miss out there.
      Unbelievable. One year deal, chump change, at least an outside chance for a bounceback season, and a leftie who could platoon with Dozier (.500 slugging pct. vs. lefties last year) if Dozier can't handle shortstop. Wouldn't want to block incoming titans like Escobar and Florimon, I guess.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      I had avoided comparing Dozier to Gagne because I'm not sure his defensive ceiling at short will approach what I remember Gagne's ability being, which was maybe just shy of Gold Glove, but very good.
      My recollection isn't quite the same, that he had his detractors where it came to range, versus the very best of his peers of course. But he was the embodiment of the Twins Way to make sure to make 99% of the routine plays and let the other guys worry about the spectacular plays. Florimon seems to be the opposite of that, I'm not sure where Dozier comes on that spectrum.

      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Gagne was an above average player, but because he didn't hit 25 dingers a year or perform two cartwheels and a triple Lutz before every throw to first, he was never really given his due.
      When I alluded to "average" CF or SS, I meant starters. Among the full list of major league SS, Gagne definitely was above average.

      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      And you're exactly right, quality regulars like Gagne
      Yeah, that's what he was. A quality regular. Quality. He certainly was a batter that a pitcher could "pitch to", but he also was a batter who could hurt the pitcher who ever took him for granted.

      I checked their heights and weights on baseball-reference.com: Dozier and Gagne are both listed at 5'11" and their weights are 5 pounds apart. Early, but there's a chance for a wickedly close comp between these two players.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      I checked their heights and weights on baseball-reference.com: Dozier and Gagne are both listed at 5'11" and their weights are 5 pounds apart. Early, but there's a chance for a wickedly close comp between these two players.
      Oh no, this could revive the "Berrios as Pedro Martinez 2.0" talk.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      My recollection isn't quite the same, that he had his detractors where it came to range, versus the very best of his peers of course. But he was the embodiment of the Twins Way to make sure to make 99% of the routine plays and let the other guys worry about the spectacular plays. Florimon seems to be the opposite of that, I'm not sure where Dozier comes on that spectrum.

      When I alluded to "average" CF or SS, I meant starters. Among the full list of major league SS, Gagne definitely was above average.
      Our recollection is actually very similar, it's just that I was making a slightly different point. Gagne's defensive rep varied somewhat, but basically I remember it like this: Average range that grew, either in practice or just by reputation, to above average. Excellent hands and positional awareness, and one of the best shortstop arms in either league.

      While admittedly limited as a stat, Gagne's Range Factor per 9 innings history exactly mirrors the perceived mid-career increase to significantly above league-average range, for what it's worth. Fielding runs above average shows his defense was about 7 or 8 runs better per season than the rest of the league on average. And despite his hacktastic approach at the plate, he managed about 2.5 to 3 wins above replacement per season throughout his prime.

      My point was that because Gagne played in the era of Ripken, Ozzie, and Barry Larkin, "above average" looked fairly pedestrian by comparision.

      To lend a little more historical context, there are only 12 modern-era shortstops elected by the BBWA to the Hall of Fame. That's almost exactly one per decade. Gagne played almost his entire career with 3 of those 12 guys in the league and in their primes. It set the shortstop bar for Gagne's era ridiculously high, and made it harder to appreciate how good he was despite being nowhere near the players they were.

      Interesting note on the physical similarity. Haven't seen Dozier in person, but my impression was that he is stockier than the whippet-lean Gagne. May have something to do with today's uniforms. Gagne was probably a better athlete with just a bit more power and speed, plus a much better arm. But I'm hoping Dozier regains his minor-league batting form and end up with the better eye at the plate, and that would go a long way toward closing the gap in their values.
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