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  • More Dingers for Dozier?

    Letís just start by saying that in his second tour of duty in the major league, Brian Dozier fared better than in his first stint.

    After a dismal 2012 season, he managed to improve his walk rate and power numbers to finish the year as one of the teamís top contributions. Faint praise, however, considering the lineupís surprising lack of offense overall.

    That said, Dozierís in-season development was impressive. After a working with hitting coach Tom Brunansky, the infielder was able to make a timing adjustment that paid dividends in the seasonís second-half. The adjustment allowed Dozier to combine the changes he made with his hips in spring training with proper timing to drive the ball on the inner-half of the plate. The results were 18 home runs -- the highest total by a Twinsí second baseman in team history.

    Will this equate to potential big home run numbers in 2014, too? Eh, not so fast.

    One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is where his home run pitches were located. According to ESPNtrumediaís database, 11 of his 18 home runs were located in the upper-third of the hitting zone:

    Brian Dozier's 2013 home runs, by location

    This represents a very high percentage of his home runs and something that hitters do not typically match, year-in and year-out. In 2013, only Arizonaís Paul Goldschmidt (17) hit more home runs on pitches in the upper-third of the strike zone than Dozier.

    For the past several years this leader board has had plenty of turnover. In 2012 another Diamondback, Aaron Hill, led baseball with 13 home runs on pitches in the upper-third. The year before that it was Josh Willingham (16) in Oakland and, before that, Albert Pujols (20).

    Why this appears to be an unrepeatable skill may be influenced by the oppositionís change in approach. If you know that Albert Pujols is going to launch one on a pitch up in the zone, you would avoid that space like the plague. On the other hand, it may simply be luck. Despite major league pitchersí best efforts, they still miss their spots from time to time and the ability to capitalize on those mistakes by depositing them into the seats may take a stroke of good fortune for the hitter.

    Beyond that, Dozier faced a very high percentage of fastballs. This may be because he was a non-threatening factor in 2012 but has since made it clear he can handle the heat. Last year, he saw fastballs 57% of the time whereas the league average was 53%. On fastballs Dozier hit a healthy .273/.353/.517 but hit just .196/.239/.249 on non-fastballs. If you were concocting a game plan to combat the Twinsí lineup, the directive would likely be to throw Dozier fewer fastballs in 2014 Ė at the very least, fewer fastballs up in the zone.

    This is not to cause despair for Dozierís 2014 season. After all, his plate discipline was a significant step forward as he reduced his chase rate considerably, from 32% in í12 to 26%; he also stopped swinging at everything as his swing rate dropped from 49% in Ď12 to 40% in 2013. Those indicators bode well for his comprehension of the zone and his development as a hitter.
    This article was originally published in blog: More Dingers for Dozier? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      Subtle difference but Fangraphs uses BIS video scouts for their data source while ESPN tru media, I believe, uses a combination of Inside Edge and Pitch F/X.
      Interesting -- thanks, Parker.

      At the end of the day, FB% only correlates at something like 75% from year-to-year for hitters around the league. We can guess that he'll see fewer next year, in which case Mr. Dozier will need to be patient and allow that BB% to tick up. I think the one thing we can be certain of is that the league will definitely adjust in one way or another and it is up to Brian to respond to that.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Make him a bad MLB starter, no, I don't think so.

      Which is why I think Dozier's floor is somewhere just north of a .700 .
      That floor is too high IMO, not until we see him adjust. But I agree that even with a dip he's a part of this teams future. I worry people, and the team, may give up on him for a very understandable and natural hiccup next year.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      That floor is too high IMO, not until we see him adjust. But I agree that even with a dip he's a part of this teams future. I worry people, and the team, may give up on him for a very understandable and natural hiccup next year.
      If he continues to walk (which I think he will), it would take a Jamey Carroll-esque SLG to not reach a .700 OPS. No matter how you view Brian Dozier, I think he can be counted on for a SLG of .375, which is hardly earth-shattering. That puts him somewhere around .700 overall.

      It's really hard for a guy to post a respectable walk rate and not approach a .700 OPS unless he's a singles machine. Even if Dozier stops hitting dingers, the doubles should still come steadily.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      If he continues to walk (which I think he will), it would take a Jamey Carroll-esque SLG to not reach a .700 OPS. No matter how you view Brian Dozier, I think he can be counted on for a SLG of .375, which is hardly earth-shattering. That puts him somewhere around .700 overall.

      It's really hard for a guy to post a respectable walk rate and not approach a .700 OPS unless he's a singles machine. Even if Dozier stops hitting dingers, the doubles should still come steadily.
      OBP also factors more than just walks. With his batting average a dip to a 375 SLG would make him a 685 OPS player. WHich is a better floor IMO.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      OBP also factors more than just walks. With his batting average a dip to a 375 SLG would make him a 685 OPS player. WHich is a better floor IMO.
      Only if you use his entire 2013 stat line and ignore that he had a ~.260 OBP in April-May and a ~.340 OBP from June-September.

      Again, using Dozier's 2013 stat line is pretty misleading. He was a different player in those first two months.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Only if you use his entire 2013 stat line and ignore that he had a ~.260 OBP in April-May and a ~.340 OBP from June-September.

      Again, using Dozier's 2013 stat line is pretty misleading. He was a different player in those first two months.
      June and August are every bit the outlier April or May are, it's just more beneficial to your argument. Hence why I take the whole season, it's a more fair argument then the one you are making.

      I see a hitter with a lot of ups and downs. He's just as capable of being down as up in a season with a lot of adjustments. Hopefully we all brace for that and ride it through to him being a big part of the team's future.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      June and August are every bit the outlier April or May are, it's just more beneficial to your argument. Hence why I take the whole season, it's a more fair argument then the one you are making.
      Except that you can draw a line in the sand the day Dozier changed his approach. He stopped swinging and started walking that day. I'm not talking about fluctuations in BABIP or homers. He drastically altered his approach and yes, he started also hitting for more power but he started taking more BB and hitting for a higher average, as well.

      The power and, to an extent, the BA might fluctuate... But not the underlying discipline, which is what we're talking about here.

      Either you believe Brian Dozier has permanently changed his approach and is going to continue walking more or you believe he's going to revert to being a very bad baseball player. I don't see a lot of room in between those arguments when it comes to plate approach. The power, yeah, that's very debatable... But not the discipline. If he goes back to swinging at bad pitches, he will not be the starting second basemen in July.

      Hence, an OPS floor somewhere around .700. If he's going to keep walking, he's going to post an OBP north of .320. Add in a SLG of .375 and there's your .700.

      If he doesn't keep walking, he's out of the league by season's end because he's almost certainly posting an OPS under .600 again.

      This isn't about using stats beneficial to my argument, it's about acknowledging that he made significant changes in approach some time in early June and ignoring some of stats previous to that point because they are no longer relevant to him as a player.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Except that you can draw a line in the sand the day Dozier changed his approach.
      Then why isn't September what we're expecting? All of the things you can cite about his approach were there and nothing was outlying.

      That's a .680 OPS player, probably more likely what to expect. Like it or not, you're looking at a rosy picture, not a realistic one.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Over/under on Dozier's OPS for 2014 is .680?

      Millions would take that bet.
      And almost all of them would say, "Over".
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      Over/under on Dozier's OPS for 2014 is .680?

      Millions would take that bet.
      And almost all of them would say, "Over".
      Well, yeah, because we were talking about his floor. I'd take the over too, that's what a floor is.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Then why isn't September what we're expecting? All of the things you can cite about his approach were there and nothing was outlying.

      That's a .680 OPS player, probably more likely what to expect. Like it or not, you're looking at a rosy picture, not a realistic one.
      I don't know what's so rosy about "Brian Dozier either has a floor of .700 OPS or he's out of the league". I simply don't see a world where he maintains solid plate discipline but can't SLG at a .375 clip. He's either going to revert in plate discipline and collapse completely or he'll be somewhere around a 100 OPS+ player.
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