The Best News for the 2013 Minnesota Twins
by, 08-24-2013 at 11:20 PM (524 Views)
The Twins started 2013 with many question marks. The entire starting rotation was questioned (rightly), and new starters were introduced at 2B, SS, 3B, and RF. Center field was to be manned by a rookie who hadn't played above AA and several new arms were being deployed in the bullpen.
The established players were Willingham, Morneau, and Mauer, with DH and backup catcher being handled by veteran Ryan Doumit.
While not much was expected, the goal was to see some or all of the new player establish themselves, some of the pitchers to take a step forward and a larger core to be established for the next wave of high-profile prospects. If everything went right, the Twins could make substantial improvement in the W-L ledger and maybe threaten .500. If things went wrong, well there's next year and there wasn't a lot of money or years invested in the "bridge" players.
With about 20% of the season remaining, there hasn't been much good news. Some players and pitchers (perhaps Correia, Pelfrey, and Florimon) have managed to meet low-bar expectations. Hicks and Parmelee (2/3 of the starting outfield) are in the minors, third baseman Plouffe hasn't hit enough or improved enough in the field to sew up a roster position for next year. Veterans Doumit and Willingham have regressed (Hammer was hampered by injuries) and Morneau is backing up a mediocre season with another mediocre season.
The bullpen has been a success. They've been healthy and have handled their roles very well despite getting too much work. That is the second best news for the team on the field this year.
The best news of 2013 has been the development and establishment of Brian Dozier as the team's second baseman. First the defense--Dozier has supplied more highlights than any other player on the team and on top of that, he has been fundamentally sound and steady. He has adjusted to second base incredibly well and seems to have mastered the double play pivot and the throws and angles in short order. Offensively, Dozier's numbers don't look that great--his average is in the .240s and he has struggled to get his OBP over .300--but Dozier has improved since a lousy April and May and he has demonstrated surprising sock for a middle infielder. He had 13 extra base hits in July and already has 15 in August, with a week to go. Dozier has hit 13 homers, second on the club and has a chance to set a home run record for a Twins second baseman. Dozier has batted leadoff more often than not since midseason. He's probably not ideal for that role, but is certainly the best option available for the Twins.
For whatever reason, Dozier has also delivered best for the team this year when the chips were down. His splits with runners on, close and late, and RISP have been very good. He's second on the club in RBI, despite batting leadoff behind low OBP guys hitting in front of him.
Dozier has earned the respect of his manager, and has cemented himself as a major league regular at age 26. He may be playing at his ceiling, but this level is good enough. Going forward, he is a regular or a pretty decent trade chip and definitely the biggest success story of the 2013 Twins.