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  • A Tale of Two Rookies: Harper and Dozier

    
    Brian Dozier, new Twins shortstop
    [Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

    One player you probably have heard of since he was 15 years old. Between the prodigious 500 foot home runs as a teenager, the eye black that could be mistaken for war paint, and an ego big enough to handle a $6.25 million signing bonus, he came into professional baseball already anointed as "the chosen one." Despite putting up fairly pedestrian numbers in relatively short stints at AA and AAA, it was of little surprise that the Washington Nationals promoted him early in the 2012 season: they want to sell tickets and be successful, and there's little doubt that he is a long-term solution to both those issues.


    The other player only fans of the Twins minor league system had heard of up until this past spring. He is a college graduate and was a 4-year starter on the Southern Mississippi baseball team, he's 25 and just getting his first taste of the big leagues, was an 8th round draft pick, and (mostly) flew under the radar until he was named 2011 Twins minor league player of the year. He's not flashy, does not hit 500 foot home runs, and from what I have seen, he does not even wear eye black. He's not viewed as the second coming of Babe Ruth, and he's not expected to permanently change the face of the Twins franchise.

    But just for kicks, I thought it might be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of Bryce Harper and the Twins' new shortstop Brian Dozier. On paper, of course, they couldn't be less similar players: one is a power-hitting teenage outfielder that may hit 500 home runs in his career; the other is a solid middle infielder expected to hit for decent average and with moderate power. It's interesting, though, that both broke into the big leagues at almost the same time -- Dozier's first game was May 7; Harper's was April 28 -- and both were brought up to inject some life into their clubs. The point here isn't to compare Dozier and Harper to one another -- that would be senseless. Rather, I'm just comparing what they have done, in a similar time span, with what fans of both organizations might have hoped for or expected.


    As of today, Harper has a .244/.333/.449 slash line with 2 home runs, 2 triples, 6 doubles and 7 RBIs. His OPS is .782. Dozier stands at .279/.292/.426 with 2 home runs, 3 doubles and 8 RBIs, with an OPS of .719. Just looking at those basic stats, a couple things stand out: first, although Harper "only" has 2 home runs, his ability to hit for extra bases is noteworthy. Second, it's not surprising that Harper is batting under .250 -- he hit .256 in 37 games at AA, and .250 in only 20 games at AAA. Yes, you're reading that right: he only played 57 games above A level minor league baseball before being called up. As I mentioned, his promotion was not solely merit-based.


    With respect to Dozier, he has been as advertised: capable in the field, some power, and the ability to hit for a good average. In short, in the extremely small sample sizes, both players are performing pretty much like you might expect. Dozier has been good on defense, has hit for average, and has shown occasional pop; Harper's batting average is lower than it was at AA or AAA, but he has demonstrated that, when he does hit, the power is there.


    It's funny that there is so much hype for one player, Harper, and the other, Dozier, will play this season in relative obscurity (it doesn't help Dozier's case that the Twins will be out of the national spotlight all summer). Yes, I do think that Harper will be an excellent major league player for years to come, and I also admit that I have enjoyed watching the way he hustles on the field 100 percent of the time. But this season, while ESPN is cutting into other broadcasts to alert us as to what great athletic feat (turning a single into a hustle double) or crazy behavior (hitting himself in the head with a bat) Harper is engaged in, I'll be content to watch a solid-fielding shortstop, who seems like a genuinely decent guy, who hopefully can anchor the Twins' infield for the foreseeable future.
    This article was originally published in blog: A Tale of Two Rookies: Harper and Dozier started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      First, great article, it was fun to read. One thing that I find noteworthy when discussing Harper is his OBP. It is fairly impressive to have a .333 at 19 years old, especially when your batting average is down at .244. The Twins with higher OBP than Harper are Willingham, Mauer, Revere, and Span, with Doumit and Diamond (had to throw him in there) having the same as Harper. In my opinion, Harper moved fast through the minors, not only because of the hype, but also because he was pitched around more than most minor leaguers. He also shows a great willingness to take walks when most young players even veterans would want to swing. He might have a big ego but he has been up late in games with runners on and the score tied or trailing by a run or two and he will work the count and take some pretty good pitches. That in my opinion is the best trait he has shown so far in his young career.

      With that said, I really like Dozier and I hope he doesn't slump or completely stumble like Valencia did after a great rookie showing. I realize they are completely different players with different work ethics but just saying.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      > The point here isn't to compare Dozier and Harper to one another -- that would be senseless.

      I agree with this, and for that reason I'm missing some subtlety of your post, which holds up the two players side by side without "comparing" them somehow.

      It seems a bit like comparing Google stock to IBM stock when the former IPOed in 2004 and the two share prices were similar. IBM had a long track record, while Google's story was pretty much all ahead of it. IBM's been a solid enough investment, while Google has multiplied. It's not a great analogy, people to companies (despite what the Supreme Court says), but a 19-year-old Harper has tremendous upside if he's willing to learn, while a 25-year-old Dozier already has the experience and polish that will likely mark the rest of his career.

      There is simply no mystery why one player gets more "hype" than the other.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      > The point here isn't to compare Dozier and Harper to one another -- that would be senseless.

      I agree with this, and for that reason I'm missing some subtlety of your post, which holds up the two players side by side without "comparing" them somehow.
      You're giving me too much credit -- there was no attempt at subtlety here.

      I was just thinking yesterday that, other than knowing that Harper had hit 2 HRs, and other than watching replays of some good plays, I didn't really know how he was doing on the season. So after I looked up his stats, I thought, "well that's about what I would expect given everything." Which is basically how I feel about Dozier thus far.

      So I guess the only comparison I would make between these two is that they are both performing about how one might have expected them to perform, taking into account their ages, skill sets, ceilings, and minor league experiences. Neither Dozier nor Harper is playing out of this world baseball, but they're also not treading water.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Very happy with Dozier's performance so far. The key for Dozier now will be to adjust to the adjustments that teams will make once he has made it around the league. The second key will be to add on. Perhaps add more walks, power or stolen bases to his already satisfactory offensive performance. Dozier already looks to be a solid shortstop--that is a big improvement over last year's misadventures.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      One player will be a superstar, the other could be a solid player for ten years. Let's not throw glitter on both and pretend they're close to the same. One is holding his own in the major leagues at age 19. That's just plain stupid. It doesn't happen. Harper and Arod.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      What about Mike Trout?
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by darin617 View Post
      What about Mike Trout?
      Trout has been excellent, for sure. He was up the last half of 2011, so I was thinking more in terms of truly new guys.
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      TFFA, enjoyable article. Like everyone has pretty much said, both players have lived up to their realistic expectations and Dozier's contribution has made me pleased. I am going to quickly focus on Bryce Harper for a minute and it is off the subject of your article and his performance. I feel like Harper is going to have some big trouble for a while. Bryce has prima donna written all over him. He is only 19 and cocky to say the very least. For the last 4 years the media has eaten a mile of his "bleep" to get to him. I would guess that all he knows in life as a mid to late adolescent and young adult is that the world seemingly revolves around him. To me, I can see it in his eyes and demeanor when he gives an interview or quote or whatever. If my hunch is true, this will cause some chemistry failings in the clubhouse to which he belongs and dissension among his teammates while his career is ongoing. PED's aside, he has the smell of being a Barry Bond's type. Great results, 2nd place finishes, and at the end of the day... loathed by the fans and the MLB community. I wish the kid the best, and he is certainly young enough to change his ways, but this is what I have seen since he became a baseball media sensation. Sorry to make this response too long. I really enjoy discussing the whole of baseball, and not being limited to the Twins (not that I don't enjoy discussing the Twins). This was an opportunity. Great Article TFFA!
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I'm a fan of both these players and it's great to see them having some success, even it's been brief. Despite his immaturity, I think Harper is a fairly likeable person. He abstains from the spotlight, although there is the hype, comparisons, legacy, etc. surrounding him.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      How can you possibly claim Dozier is as good or will have as good a career as Harper, you numbskull!!!!

      (kidding)
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinstalker View Post
      One player will be a superstar, the other could be a solid player for ten years. Let's not throw glitter on both and pretend they're close to the same. One is holding his own in the major leagues at age 19. That's just plain stupid. It doesn't happen. Harper and Arod.
      Not to take away too much, but the list is certainly longer than that. Griffey Jr immediately pops to mind. I thought Mantle came up at 19. There...it's doubled in size already!
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      How can you possibly claim Dozier is as good or will have as good a career as Harper, you numbskull!!!!

      (kidding)
      I, know, right?
      I sincerely regret making the following statement: "Brian Dozier will be, heads and shoulders, a better ballplayer than Bryce Harper."
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