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  • Top '13 Stories: #10 Brian Dozier Breaks Through

    2013 was a big year for Brian Dozier. He had been hyped (maybe over-hyped) in spring training in 2012, and when he finally made his big league debut as a 24-year-old in early May, it proved to be a major struggle for him.

    Dozier learned a lot from 2012, and came into 2013 ready to take the next step. By seasonís end, he was an easy choice for the Twins' most improved player. Some even made an argument that he could have been named the teamís MVP.

    To understand where Dozier entered 2013, we really need to go back and look at his 2012. He was named the 2011 Twins' Minor League Hitter of the Year. When he came up in 2012, he hit just .234/.271/.332 (.603) in 84 games. He was sent down to Rochester in mid-August and did not get called up when rosters expanded in September.

    However, when he came to Fort Myers for spring training 2013, he was handed a new job, starting second baseman. His defense at the position solidified his roster spot.

    But after going 1-5 with on May 27 he was hitting just .197/.238/.270 (.508). To their credit, the Twins stood by him, and he made that decision look great. In his final 110 games of the season, he hit .259/.335/.461 (.796) with 30 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs.

    It was a topic that Parker Hageman addressed in spring training when he said Dozierís swing was something that Twins fans needed to watch. In August, Parker went back and reviewed Dozierís swing and showed some of the reasons behind his improved production. Dozier gave a lot of credit to hitting coach Tom Brunansky for working with him through a couple technical glitches.

    A quick look at how his numbers after May 27 compare to other top second basemen shows that he can play with the best. His .796 ranked behind only Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, Jason Kipnis, and Chase Utley. His 49 extra base hits was behind only Carpenterís 54 (39 doubles, 7 triples, 8 home runs) and three ahead of Cano (30 doubles, 14 home runs). No one else had more than 38 (Kipnis).

    Dozierís defense was a constant throughout the 2013 season, as well. He made enough great plays to fill up a couple highlight reels. At seasonís end, he was named the Twins recipient of the Wilsonís Twins Top Defender.

    Now, Dozier will be the first to tell you heís still got plenty of room for improvement. He would like to increase his batting average, something that would be helped by cutting down his strikeout count. Overall, he hit .244/.312/.414. His OPS of .726 was exactly league average. However, his WAR (by Baseball-Reference) was 3.8, and his Fan Graphs WAR was 2.8.

    Photo by Betsy Bissen

    The Twins will be counting on Dozier to continue that improvement track in 2014. In 2013, his emergence was certainly one of the bigger Twins stories.

    A look at other Twins stories from 2013 includes:

    #13 Ė Twins in the WBC
    #12 Ė Drew Butera Traded to Dodgers
    #11 Ė Twins Sign Kubel, Trade Doumit
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Dozier is a solid 2B but with guys like Rosario and Polanco in the system it's hard to say who is 2B of the future but it's always nice to have options.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      If Dozier can repeat last year (minus May) for the next half decade he is more than just a "solid" 2B. He would be one of the best in baseball.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      He wasn't called back up to the majors in September, and the experience stung Dozier enough that he went right to work when the season ended. He played winter ball in Venezuela to get experience at second base, spent time with left fielder Josh Willingham at his ranch in Alabama and worked with Paul Molitor on second-base fundamentals at the University of Minnesota.
      Gotta love that attitude.

    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I like Dozier a lot. He signed a baseball for me two straight years in Spring Training. He seems to have found a home at second and it makes Polanco and perhaps Rosario expendible. My worry is that the power just isn't going to be sustained. I do believe he'll get on more and will continue to be a fine fielding 2B. I think it might be wise to have a little bit older guy when all of the really young guys show up, so it might be very wise to keep Dozier and cashier one of the up and coming second sackers.
    1. BigTrane's Avatar
      BigTrane -
      I'll admit to being a fan... late '13, there were few rays of light, and Dozier was one of them. His FP is right up there with the best in MLB at his position, and the Twins love the glove.

      So do I, but I love a good bat, too.

      He showed some power and turned in some good at-bats during the season. Twins simply do not have *anything* when it comes to clutch hitting (makes me crazy) but there were tantalizing flashes here and there. If he can hook up with Molly and put it together at the plate in '14, then he can write his own ticket.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I'm curious to see if we get "Power Dozier" or "OBP Dozier" next year. The power thing was so new it'll be interesting to see if it continues. At least, at rock bottom, we know we have a damn good fielder.
    1. Sleestax's Avatar
      Sleestax -
      Dozier is the 2nd basemen of the future. He is there and producing. Rosario screwed us.
      I think our trade chips are pitchers now...and Rosario was a better trade chip.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      how did rosario screw us?
    1. TheBigGuy7273's Avatar
      TheBigGuy7273 -
      As little as the chance may be, Dozier can still be moved back to short. As well I would bet that Dozier continues to improve, if he can somehow hit .275 or better, the twins will be in pretty good shape weather he's playing short or second.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      how did rosario screw us?
      Maybe "screwed" is a strong word, but any time a developing player gets a major ban he costs himself and his org. a lot IMO. Not saying he's not allowed a mistake here and there, or that I can't look past it down the road, but it still stings quite a bit right now, no?
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