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  • Twins Need Dozier To Snap Out Of Funk

    On Tuesday night it was announced that Minnesota Twins’ second baseman, Brian Dozier, would be participating in the Home Run Derby.

    Without question, it will be an honor for him to smack dingers at his home stadium, with his home crowd, and even his own brother pitching to him, no less. The event, where the game's most prolific home run hitters get to sit on the grass, some with their families, and admire the powerful swings while listening to ESPN’s Chris Berman say "back" five hundred and sixty-five million times is a unique experience.

    (Quick aside: A little word of advice that I'm fairly certain his brother Clay is aware of, the Twins’ second baseman likes to hit his home runs up in the zone:



    So throw the ball there Clay, and try not to think about the fact that you will be GIF'd into eternity so everyone can laugh if you accidentally throw a pitch like 50 Cent.)

    No doubt, being added to the Home Run Derby is a wonderful thing to brag about on his Linkedin page but as a fixture on at the top of the order, Dozier is expected to be a table-setter, not a home run hitter. Unfortunately for the sputtering Twins offense, he has been more of the former and less of the latter recently.

    Dozier’s 65 runs scored still tops the American League but he has been plated 14 times over his last 29 games -- admittedly a product of those hitting behind him and not by his own inability to get on-base (.311 on-base percentage in that time). While he has been a solid on-base catalyst, he has not been able to carry the team like he did in the beginning of the year when he was jacking the jobs that landed him in the Home Run Derby. The power surge that helped him to 11 home runs by the end of May -- the 11th most in the AL at that time -- has slowed. What is going on?

    The biggest change is his results against fastballs. Dozier, who once feasted on fastballs, is now struggling to make contact and turn them into hits, let alone home runs. From April to June 5 he hit .331/.424/.622 and 9 HRs in 152 plate appearances versus fastballs. Since then he has batted just .115/.227/.250 with two home runs in 65 plate appearances.

    According to ESPN/trumedia's In-Play Heat Maps, Dozier has not performed as well against fastballs up in the zone (where he once thrived) since June 6:



    Reviewing the batted ball performance, Dozier, who had once elevated fastballs thrown his direction (58% fly ball rate from April 1 to June 5), is now driving those same pitches into the ground (48% ground ball rate since June 5).

    There are no real significant changes in approach by the pitchers, either. He still sees a hefty amount of fastballs, plenty still left up in the zone. His mechanics are essentially the same -- there is no loss of the Tom Brunansky-inspired timing mechanism -- but there is an uptick in the number of times he has pulled the ball, a plausible explanation for why he is having issues on putting the ball in play on the inner-half while cheating and pulling pitches on the outer-half where pitchers are targeting him.

    Dozier understands the importance of success against the fastball at the major league level.

    "You don't succeed at this level by hitting breaking balls," Dozier told Sports On Earth’s Howard Megdal last month. "You succeed by not missing fastballs. And that's what I had to really come to terms with. Instead of trying to hit the hanger, you stick to your plan. Those guys are good on the mound, but they're not superhuman. They make mistakes."

    For the sake of the Twins’ offense, Dozier needs to start capitalizing on those mistakes again.
    Since the Twins beat the Mariners last night, you can get half off your L or XL pizza on Wednesday by ordering online at PapaJohns.com with the promo code 'TWINSWIN'.
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I've really seen the HR derby as a mixed blessing. Dozier seems like he needs a few solid days off and a trip home to Mississippi may have rejuvenated him.

      Now I guess we'll see. There are so many dangers in the "swing for the fences" approach of the Derby and there have to be reasons why a lot of players decline to participate.

      Hopefully the fun of being around the best in the game will offset this for Dozier and he'll be able to get back to what he was doing well.
    1. OldTimeTwinkie's Avatar
      OldTimeTwinkie -
      Its rediculous that Dozier is in hr contest rather than Abreau from White Sox. Love Dozier but this is wrong.
    1. MNKingfish's Avatar
      MNKingfish -
      Curious that Cruz, Martinez, Abreu aren't among All Star HR participants!
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Abreu turned down the HR derby: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/28552...run-derby.html

      Cruz also turned it down: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/201...home-run-derby

      As did Cabrera, Trout and others.

      Can't force them to participate.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      May sound silly but I always thought the home run derby and the all star game was part of the reason for Morneau's decline in 2008 especially given the fact that he played 163 games that year. He was just worn out by September which cost us a playoff spot and an MVP trophy for Justin.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      Could his decline in performance be a result of not getting days off? It seems like who is in the lineup every day. I can't recall who is the backup 2nd basemen. It must be Escobar.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I think it might be he is just settling back to his norm. The homeruns have kind of come out of nowhere the last two years. Nine was the most he ever had in the Minors. While his OBP has improved the ave. has stayed fairly constant.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      It seems to me Dozier takes a lot of belt high fastballs, and let's it loose on the one's up in the zone, some way up. Hopefully he's not up there trying to jack it out, but just get on base. Hit singles, take the doubles when they come and build on that. He needs to be a lot better than hitting in the .230's.

      And now the joke of the homerun contest? No way should he participate in that. He's messed up enough now anyway, and I do agree that the time off and heading home might help. I don't know how sticking around and trying to jack can possibly help him straighten out his mess in the box.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      If Dozier's participation ruins that already menacing .230 average, I will be really disappointed. Hard to understand him even being invited, and more hard to understand Dozier accepting.
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      Dozier has hit a decent number of HRs and plays for the host team...and a lot of other players already turned Bautista down. I don't get where the disbelief over his being invited comes from. And can we please stop perpetuating the "HR derby screws up your swing" myth? It's conventional wisdom that is not supported by evidence, except evidence of a guy like Abreu going on a ridiculous tear before the ASG, then returning to normal after.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      We are fortunate the Twins didn't extend him while he was so hot.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Dozier topped out at about .260 BA and well into the .800s for OPS IIRC. Certainly a drop of 25 BA points is substantial, but I guess I never thought he was "so hot". The power has diminished and the walks have slowed down the past week to ten days. I thought the four days off would be helpful (still do), but he might never hit for a high average with his current offensive approach.
    1. SouthernMiss twins fan's Avatar
      SouthernMiss twins fan -
      I think it's awesome he's in hr derby and we'll deserving. As far as contracts go and not extending him. That's crazy! Who would u rather have at 2b? Leading league in runs, solid on base, on pace for 30-30 all while playing great D. Sure he's slowed a little but 162 game season has peaks and valleys for every player. I for one am glad we have him and hope he's stays in a twins uniform his whole career
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by SouthernMiss twins fan View Post
      I think it's awesome he's in hr derby and we'll deserving. As far as contracts go and not extending him. That's crazy! Who would u rather have at 2b? Leading league in runs, solid on base, on pace for 30-30 all while playing great D. Sure he's slowed a little but 162 game season has peaks and valleys for every player. I for one am glad we have him and hope he's stays in a twins uniform his whole career
      Related or just from his college?
    1. SouthernMiss twins fan's Avatar
      SouthernMiss twins fan -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      Related or just from his college?
      From same college as Doz but I'm older. We played golf together when he was in school here . He such a like able guy I've been following him and rooting for him ever since. So now I'm a huge twins fan. Love the fan base . First my boy Farve was a Viking now doz a twin. You see a lot of people down here rocking Minnesota stuff. Anyways I probably sound like a homer but I truly feel Doz is going to be a star and twins are building into a contender next cpl years.
    1. Longdistancetwins's Avatar
      Longdistancetwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by SouthernMiss twins fan View Post
      From same college as Doz but I'm older. We played golf together when he was in school here . He such a like able guy I've been following him and rooting for him ever since. So now I'm a huge twins fan. Love the fan base . First my boy Farve was a Viking now doz a twin. You see a lot of people down here rocking Minnesota stuff. Anyways I probably sound like a homer but I truly feel Doz is going to be a star and twins are building into a contender next cpl years.
      Love it, SouthernMiss! Stick around with us. I hope Doz is with us a long time!
    1. SouthernMiss twins fan's Avatar
      SouthernMiss twins fan -
      Thanks longdistance! Me too and as much as I love my boy Doz, no matter what happens I'm a twins fan 4 life.
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