Brian Dozier Doesn’t Care About Batting Average, Neither Should You

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Last season, the Minnesota Twins watched as their 26-year-old second basemen showed up on the national stage right before their eyes. Leading the team in home runs, Brian Dozier represented the Twins in the Home Run Derby, while quietly becoming one of the games best second basemen. Guess what, he did it all while not hitting for average.

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It’s fair to note that batting average is a valuable statistic, and truly some players strengths. However, even those considered to be good hitters in terms of average, are probably even better when it comes to a more integral statistic. On base percentage.

Last season, Brian Dozier batted with just a .242 average, a full two points lower than his 2013 season, and only eight points higher than in 2012 when he broke into the league as a rookie. What Dozier did hit for however was a career best .345 on base percentage, regarded as an exceptional mark. That mark in fact means he needs to change absolutely nothing at the plate. Getting on base is virtually the most important offensive ability a player can have, and Dozier has proven adept at it.

In 2015, Jose Altuve had the best season of his career. He led the America League in batting average at .341 and was a Silver Slugger award winner. His .377 on base percentage was the best mark of his career. Previously, he had never eclipsed a .340 on base percentage, getting on base with a mark as low as .316 during the 2013 season. The Cleveland Indians offered a six-year, $52.5 million deal to Jason Kipnis a season ago; a deal that Brian Dozier would be more than worthy of. Despite batting a career worst .240, Kipnis only posted a .310 on base percentage.

For comparisons sake, Kipnis should probably be regarded as someone in a similar realm to Dozier. The year the Indians second basemen produced prior to getting paid was filled with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, 30 stolen bases, and 86 runs scored. He produced that line at the age of 26 years old. Last season, at 27, Dozier hit 23 home runs, 71 RBI, stole 21 bases, and scored 112 runs. Both of those lines signify incredibly productive seasons.

So, with Kipnis falling off a proverbial cliff last season, the Twins should be concerned about the same with Dozier correct? Not so fast. In 2013, Kipnis had an on base percentage of .366 and a batting average of .284, the downside is that he owned a batting average on balls in play of .345. With that high of a mark on a stat that basically measures how lucky a hitter is when putting the ball into the field of play, regression towards the mean was bound to happen. For Dozier in 2014, an on base percentage of .345 was backed by an average sitting at .242 but substantiated by a .269 BABIP. This explains that while Dozier didn’t hit for a high average, his on base percentage and numerical values weren’t inflated by a number above what is statistically plausible.

Last night while running through the projected Opening Day lineup, Ben Holsen and Mike Morris of 105 The Ticket in Minneapolis mentioned that they would both expect and hope Dozier’s average increases in 2015. While that would always be a great thing to experience, the reality is that there is zero reason for it to have to, and probably even less indication that it will. Dozier has always hit for a consistent average (career number is .241), and being in the range it is, isn’t a problem giving that he gets on base.

For the Twins, Brian Dozier is not an asset because he gets a base hit three out of ten times. Dozier is one of the Twins biggest assets at the plate because he gets on base. In doing so, he generates runs, steals bases, and affords positive situations for the lineup behind him. Adding in the fact that he plays a solid second base only adds to the value for the Twins.

At some point, the Twins will be faced with the decision of whether or not to extend Brian Dozier to a contract extension, and that is likely going to have a significant dollar value tied to it. Whether or not Jorge Polanco is ready for the big leagues will probably factor into the decision, but Dozier not hitting for average likely won’t be part of the equation.

Dozier has said previously he thinks batting average is overrated, it’s probably time you do too.

Next: Projecting Your Twins Opening Day Lineup

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