Abysmal starting pitching. Shaky bullpen relief. Awful clutch hitting. Poor mental mistakes. As we approach the end of August and start the home stretch toward the end of this season, there have been few things to be pleased about for the Twins’ organization at the Major League level. Naturally, every Twins fan is hoping, praying, and restlessly waiting for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano to pan out into the studs they are projected to become in Twins’ uniforms (yes, I am definitely one of those fans). That time will have to wait as rushing them along would prove costly in the Twins plan of attack in 2014 and beyond. In the mean time, we have to wait and get through this season and look forward to what should be better seasons to come in our near team’s near future.
Toss out all the bad things any given fan could say about this team, there is at least one silver lining that has emerged from this season. When you hear Smalltown USA by Justin Moore start playing across the speakers at Target Field, you know he is coming up to bat and something positive may happen. All 5’11″ and 190 lb. of him has been one shining spot in this Twins lineup as of late and has been impacting the game both offensively and defensively.
Since June 1st, who would have guessed someone of that stature would be sitting between Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera for most total extra base hits? His 26 doubles, 11 home runs, and 2 triples give him 39 extra base hits – enough to rank 2nd in the American League for XBH since June started. Brian Dozier has been a pleasant surprise during this summer where we have seen the Twins lose far more games than they have won. He has been hanging tough with the big boys when it comes to putting the ball in the gap and driving in runs. Without him driving in those runs and diving to save more than a few on defense, this Twins season could have been far worse. Thankfully, he has salvaged at least a sliver of hope as we are about to put this dismal season behind us.
Dozier’s bat has been a plus this 2nd half of the year, but hitting is not even his best contribution to the team this year. His defense has been absolutely superb and has ranked in the top tier of the league for much of the season as well. A few things he ranks in the top 5 in the league are assists (3rd), DP by a 2B (2nd), Fielding Percentage at 2B (4th), and Range Factor/9 Inn at 2B (1st). Yes, those are his ranks compared to the greats of Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, and Robinson Cano to name a few. If sabermetrics and statistics are not your forte, just watching Dozier dive ever so gracefully to stop a hot shot and then throw the runner out is enough to keep me interested day in and day out.
This season, like the previous two seasons, is a lost cause in terms of playoffs. We are instead in a battle for what spot in the draft we will have come next June. Looking forward to what players may be making up our roster come Opening Day in 2014, Brian Dozier is all but a lock for 2nd base. I know I will be pulling for Dozier to continue his recent XBH tear and impressive defensive play through the end of September and hopefully into 2014 (Fingers crossed).