There is no need to point out how good Robinson Cano is if you’re talking about second basemen. When there is a baby panda in the corner who is wearing a diaper, you don’t have to point at it and say “Oh my god, there is a baby panda wearing a diaper in the room!” Everyone already knows, because, you know, baby panda in a diaper.
But you do have to point out Brian Dozier‘s 2013 numbers, and you might even have to dress him up in a diaper if you want him to get any fantasy baseball attention at all, as Dozier’s a guy who most likely played over his head in 2013 and doesn’t deserve to be drafted in the top 12 second basemen. So let’s devote the next 600 words exploring what attention he’s worth in 2014.
Since it’s probable you may not be familiar with Dozier, let me get you up to speed. Dozier is the 26-year-old middle infielder for the Minnesota Twins. He bats righty and hails from tiny Fulton, Mississippi, a fact that I included primary because typing Mississippi is fun. Scouts have always described Dozier as being gritty, scrappy, blah blah, a hard worker who plays with heart. But scouts never described him as having a ton of upside.
Then 2011 happened. Split between A+ AA, Dozier scored 92 Runs, stole 24 bases, and hit .320 while posting an OBP of .399. He wasn’t nearly as impressive when he got a cup of coffee in 2012, but because the Twins have a glorified Triple A roster, he got a full season of Major Leagues at bats in 2013 and posted this line:
WHAT I LIKE
First, this may not seem like a glowing letter of recommendation, but Dozier will get at bats. He’s got the job in 2014, in part because the Twins don’t have anyone else who both have a pulse and have an infielder’s glove. But it’s not just a starting gig due to attrition. The Twins have full confidence in Dozier to the point that there is talk that top 2B prospect Eddie Rosario will be moved to the outfield, giving Dozier the long-term job at 2B.
Full confidence from the Twins will give Dozier the opportunity and confidence to battle through slumps and to grow as a player. It also means tons of plate appearances, which is more opportunity for the counting stats that are so important for his fantasy value. Point of fact, he ended the season batting 2nd, which helped him achieve a solid 72 runs.
What I like about him skill-wise is his contact ability. In his limited 2012 Major League sample, he swung too often and at too many bad pitches.
Not only did he swing at fewer pitches out of the strike zone in 2013 (indicated by O-Swing%), he swung at fewer pitches period (indicated by Swing%). His contact percentage of 84.6% put him in the Top 50 of the league and means that he hit the ball when he did swing.
He keeps the strikeouts down, so if he can get a lucky break or two and those baseballs he puts into play fall for hits, then you’ll se a rise in his 2014 AVG. I see no reason why he can’t be a .265 hitter in 2014.
An acceptable AVG coupled with reasonable counting stats and double digits from homers and steals may not seem terribly exciting, but it is great late round value at a weak 2B position.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
Brian Dozier is the franchise leader for home runs by a second baseman. His 18 in 2013 beats the 14 hit by Hall of Famer Rod Carew in 1975. This little factoid does more to illustrate that the Minnesota Twins haven’t had any slugging second basemen, than it does to illustrate that Dozier is a home run hitter. He’s not, nor should his never reside in the same sentence as Rod Carew.
But as shown in the table below, Dozier has increased the amount of balls he’s hit into the air. 9.9% of those fly balls left the stadium as home runs, but many were of the “just enough” variety, meaning they would’ve landed in any outfielders glove had the wind been blowing in that day.
But while the numbers suggests that a repeat of 18 home runs is unlikely, they also give confidence that 11-13 home runs are a reasonable expectation in 2014.
EARLY OUTLOOK FOR 2014
In 2013 Brian Dozier displayed skills the scouts didn’t see. My granddaddy used to say, “Hard work never killed anybody”, to which I’d make a remark about John Henry. It looks as though Brian Dozier’s hard work is beginning to pay off with measurable results on the field.
Dozier is a mixed bag in fantasy circles. He’s a hard worker who is making the most of his limited talent. While he doesn’t have a high ceiling, he’s got a high floor. That’s not the worst kind of player to spend $2-3 dollars on at the back end of a draft.