Last season, Brian Dozier officially emerged onto the major league baseball scene as one of the best second basemen in the game. After being a surprise player out of Spring Training for the Twins in 2012, it didn’t take long for Dozier to come into his own. However, as good as you might have believed Brian Dozier was a season ago, the reality is that he was in fact better than you imagined.
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In 2014, Dozier was an All-Star game snub, despite being included in the Home Run Derby. He slashed .242/.345/.416 while hitting a career best 23 home runs, driving in 71 runs, and scoring 112 runs (finishing behind only Mike Trout for the major league lead). Across the board, it’s pretty safe to say that Brian Dozier had a breakout 2014 season.
While the raw numbers suggest that indeed the Twins second basemen did take massive steps forward in 2014, it might be best to put the performance into context regarding his peers. Looking at wins above replacement, which on a per-season basis does a respectable job of quantifying a player’s worth, shows that Dozier was maybe even better than good.
Looking at second basemen, Dozier ranked third in WAR, behind only Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano. Should you expand the numbers to take a look at all middle infielders, Dozier still ranks third, and higher than Troy Tulowitzki, Anthony Rendon, and Hanley Ramirez. His 5.01 WAR mark in 2014 slots him in as the 15th best player in the major leagues. What’s better is that the season doesn’t appear to be an outlier.
In 2013, Dozier hit 18 home runs while slashing .244/.312/.726. His continued growth allowed him to strike out nearly the same amount, but to develop an advanced understanding of the plate, and nearly double his amount of walks (51 in 2013, 89 in 2014). Although many will point to Dozier’s average (career .241) as a weakness, it really doesn’t matter if it increases considering the clip he gets on base (.345 in 2014). The fact that Dozier brings an advanced slugging ability, scores, and drives in runs from the second base position, makes him amongst the most valuable players in the game.
Last season AL Central foe, Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians, was signed to a six-year, $52.5 million contract. At the same age as Brian Dozier, Kipnis went on to hit .240/.310/.330 with just six home runs, 41 runs batted in, and 61 runs scored. While those numbers were significantly down from his career average, Kipnis’ .284 average in 2013 was more the exception than the norm. Although Kipnis should bounce back in 2015 for the Indians, he likely will fall somewhere in between the two sample sizes.
With Brian Dozier looking like a prime candidate for an extension, locking him up to a long-term deal somewhere in the neighborhood of money that Kipnis was given, is something the Twins should feel comfortable with. Not only is he a top-tier talent at a position that lacks much of it, be he has stayed consistent throughout the time he has spent in the major leagues. Continuing to project forward, the notion should be that there is not much room up or down that any of Dozier’s statistical outputs waver.
As Dozier sets his sights upon both Cano and Altuve as the premier second base talents in all of the major leagues, the Twins should have the benefit of watching him blossom right before their eyes. From being a guy that had a breakout Spring Training, to one that is now putting to together at the highest level, the Twins should be thrilled at just how good their often disregarded star is.
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