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  • The Big Switch: Brian Dozier

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    In his entire minor-league career -- which spanned 365 games over four seasons -- Brian Dozier hit a total of 16 home runs.

    I keep coming back to that astonishing number as the second baseman launches bomb after bomb after bomb for the Twins. After going deep twice at Target Field over the weekend, Dozier now has 11 homers this season, tying him for fourth in the American League.

    According to the Star Tribune's Phil Miller, Dozier "laughed at the notion that he's now a power hitter" after hitting his 10th jack on Friday night. Then, perhaps while still chuckling, he went out on Saturday and delivered a three-run homer that lifted the Twins to a 4-3 victory.


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    It's not surprising that Dozier doesn't want to be pigeon-holed as a power hitter. After all, he's been arguably the most effective leadoff hitter in baseball. His on-base percentage is up to .374, he's 12-for-15 on stolen base attempts and he leads the league with 40 runs scored.

    Those are the types of things we might have expected based on his track record in the minors, where Dozier was a speedy on-base machine with a disciplined approach and a good glove.

    But his power was very slow to develop. He didn't hit his first home run as a pro until his 126th game, and up until last year he had never reached double-digits in homers for a season.

    Then, the switch flipped. Since the start of the 2013 campaign, Dozier has piled up 29 home runs in 189 games. That might not sound like elite pop, but when you account for his position, it is. No second baseman has put more balls in the bleachers over the last two seasons.

    Photo by Jesse Johnson, USA TODAY Sports

    So while he might be many other things as well, there's no doubt that he is a power hitter. And that transformation probably has the Twins thinking about making a switch of their own.

    Although Dozier has been spectacular as a leadoff man, the impact of his frequent long balls hasn't been maximized. All but two of his 11 homers have come with the bases empty, and despite being one of the most prolific power hitters in the league Dozier ranks fourth on his own team in RBI.

    Trevor Plouffe, who has been regularly occupying the third spot in the lineup, has gone cold after a hot start. A rough month has dropped his hitting line to .245/.330/.399 and his penchant for knocking in runs has all but disappeared, Sunday's 2-RBI effort notwithstanding.

    The lack of a suitable replacement at the top of the lineup might be the only thing holding Ron Gardenhire back from sliding Dozier down to a spot where he'd have more opportunities to drive men (and specifically Joe Mauer) home.




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    Comments 13 Comments
    1. highlander's Avatar
      highlander -
      Dozier is a big piece of the World Series Championship puzzle. Two years Buxton, Sano, Meyers, ect. will be banging on the door!!
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      I'm not sure about this but I read his batted ball distance is about the same as last year so far so the homerun pace will come down but more doubles will arise.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      29 homers in 189 games is good. 28 in about 155 is much better and Dozier has done that. There is a nice article on Dozier in the PP. It points out when the power stroke started and where Dozier ranks in home runs in the last 51 weeks. The transformation has been incredible.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      So..Sounds to me like we should be calling Dozier:

      The Next Big Thing!

      Is it time for those of us on the internet who mocked this to eat some crow?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drock2190 View Post
      I'm not sure about this but I read his batted ball distance is about the same as last year so far so the homerun pace will come down but more doubles will arise.
      As will his warning track outs. Topping 18 HRs from last year seems likely, 25-28 is not out of the realm of possibility, as there are still a lot of bad pitching staffs and warm weather coming....sure to help him in his quest, will be Mauer when Joe finally starts hitting Mauer-like right behind him.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Give Escobar a shot at leading off, leave Mauer at 2, and move Dozier to 3?
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      I would much rather that Dozier stay where he is and the Twins come up with a legitimate 3rd, 4th, and 5th offensive options on the team. He's fast, can steal a base, runs the bases well, and gets on base at a good clip. All of those are things you want in a leadoff guy. If the bottom of the order hadn't hit .250 (when you ADD the BAs together) for the first month of the season, he wouldn't be 4th on his own team in RBIs
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      Escobar is a little too much of a free-swinger for Gardy to put him in the leadoff spot.
    1. brvama's Avatar
      brvama -
      Personally, I'd leave him at the lead-off spot. His base stealing ability would be diminished at #3. He reminds me a "bit" like Ricky Henderson who had tremendous ability to swipe bases but also put the ball in the seats. Dozier isn't in the same league as Henderson but certainly has some of the same tools.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I would guess part of the reason so many of his homers are solo is because he gets better pitches to drive when no one is on base.
    1. blindeke's Avatar
      blindeke -
      I wish Hicks made better contact, because then he'd be a great leadoff guy. [sigh]
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      I would guess part of the reason so many of his homers are solo is because he gets better pitches to drive when no one is on base.
      Completely agree. Of course pitchers/catchers are going to pitch differently with runners on base. That said, I think two of his last three have been 3-run shots, so a good hitter is still going to take advantage of a mistake.

      I'm in agreement that they should just leave Dozier at leadoff for now. If Escobar can keep up what he's doing for another week or two, then maybe make that move. Also, Hicks has had a nice 3-4 game stretch. I agree that he'd be an ideal leadoff candidate with his OBP. Maybe having Mauer behind him (as opposed to Florimon/escobar/etc) will give him some more pitches to hit.

      But to go with the theme, it was about 1 year ago in a week that Dozier made a big switch in his approach and mechanics and he's been as good as any 2B in the game since then... or at least right up there with Cano, Kipnis and Pedroia.
    1. kdrupp09's Avatar
      kdrupp09 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Completely agree. Of course pitchers/catchers are going to pitch differently with runners on base. That said, I think two of his last three have been 3-run shots, so a good hitter is still going to take advantage of a mistake.

      I'm in agreement that they should just leave Dozier at leadoff for now. If Escobar can keep up what he's doing for another week or two, then maybe make that move. Also, Hicks has had a nice 3-4 game stretch. I agree that he'd be an ideal leadoff candidate with his OBP. Maybe having Mauer behind him (as opposed to Florimon/escobar/etc) will give him some more pitches to hit.

      But to go with the theme, it was about 1 year ago in a week that Dozier made a big switch in his approach and mechanics and he's been as good as any 2B in the game since then... or at least right up there with Cano, Kipnis and Pedroia.
      I agree with the thought about Escobar, if in another week or two he is still hitting good, make the move. With Hicks, I believe the Twins are looking for a solid month or two from him before placing him back in the pressure situation he would be in as lead off hitter.

      I must say it is nice to say we have a 2nd baseman who can be spoken of in the same sentence as Cano, Kipnis, and Pedroia. How long has it been since the Twins had an elite 2nd baseman? Knoblauch?
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