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Bull (Market) Dozier?

Brian Dozier is having himself one heck of a season. In the first 62 games (though mid-June), Dozier was OPSing below .700: .227/.325/.369, with only 7 HR & 12 doubles and a .250 BABIP. That put him on pace for this kind of season (pro-rated over 162 games):


Here's what he's done since then:


Take another look at that prorated home run pace. Since mid-June Dozier's been slugging the ball the way Bret Boone could only have dreamed.

But has he been hitting cheapies? According to Home Run Tracker, Dozier's average true distance this season is 397.7 feet, which is just below the AL average (399.2 ft) and his average speed off the bat is 103.7 mph, just a tick below average (103.9 mph). Only two of his homers have been hit to the right of dead-center (off Cesar Ramos in Arlington & Carlos Rodon in Chicago). Home Run Tracker rates 8 of Dozier's homers as "No Doubt" clouts, which ties him with the following players: M. Machado, E. Longoria, B. Harper, M. Trout, D. Ortiz, E. Gattis, M. Cabrera, C. Gonzalez, A. Duvall. Some notable names with No Doubt hits that don't speak as loud: J. Donaldson, M. Sano, A. Rizzo, P. Goldschmidt, K. Morales, P. Alvarez, J. Upton, A. Beltre. Dozier is tied with Adrian Beltre for 5th in "Just Enough" homers, trailing both Jay Bruce & Robinson Cano (and one ahead of his playfully mephitic fellow keystone slugger Rougned Odor). Draw what conclusions you will, but it seems that Dozier's been neither wildly lucky or Thor-like.

Dozier's been just about as good on the road as he's been in Minneapolis:


Fangraphs' David Laurila wrote up Dozier's insight on his approach just last month (August 5th). Dozier had homered the night before (#22), "putting him on pace to match last year's career-high total of 28" as Laurila noted. The article's worth your time if you haven't read it already. I won't recap any of it here, other than to say I hope Dozier's philosophy is respected by the coaching staff & front office, and that he shares it more widely in the clubhouse. Last week Fangraphs' Scott Strandberg followed up on Laurila's interview with some analysis of Dozier's new swing mechanics. In a piece published at Fangraphs today, August Fagerstrom observes that Dozier currently is second on MLB leaderboards for two metrics: home runs (behind Mark Trumbo) and ISO (behind David Ortiz). What Dozier has done is truly historic. Fagerstrom: "[Dozier's] .298 ISO is the highest unadjusted figure in the expansion era (1961-present) for a second baseman and the highest by any second baseman not named Rogers Hornsby in baseball history (emphasis mine). Adjusted, Dozier is 6th since 1961, behind Joe Morgan ('76), Davey Johnson ('73), Bobby Grich ('81), Ryne Sandberg ('90), and Grich again ('79). A truly impressive list no matter which way you make it

That list also suggests something else: that Dozier's best days as a player may well be happening right now. Will the Brian Dozier we know right now – or, heck, even the Brian Dozier of 2014 & 2015 – be a solid contributor on the next great Twins team?

Dozier will be in his age-30 season next year. We all are familiar with the aging characteristics of bat-first second basemen, and if you figure Dozier's defense is about league average (as most metrics suggest), then the question begins to be shaped by forces outside of Dozier's control. Will the next great Twins team come before Dozier is a significant liability in the infield? Jeff Kent & Dan Uggla are proof that a team can trot out a mediocre defender at second base for a good long time if he averages 25+ bombs a season. If Dozier can keep that up, the answer two both questions is probably "Yes."

To finally get to the question raised in the title of this post: should whomever the Twins name as their new GM aggressively shop Dozier this winter?

Last season the Twins signed Dozier to a deal that has been very club-friendly to date: 4 years/$20 million. After this season Dozier is due $6 million in 2017, followed by $9 million in 2018. As the value of a win continues to rise (currently somewhere around $6 million $8 million per win), Dozier promises to offer significant value as long as he can stay on the field and manage at least the 2.4 rWAR/3.3fWAR he posted in 2015. By keeping him, the Twins have one major, veteran bat in their lineup for two more seasons. (With, I might add, a great approach to hitting, whether the front office appreciates it or not).

On the other hand, however, Dozier's contract and production could be extremely attractive to clubs looking to contend in 2017. The most appealing free agent second basemen this winter are probably Neil Walker, Chase Utley, and Kelly Johnson.

The major wrinkle in pursuing any trade is figuring out what teams might be looking to upgrade at the keystone next year. Of the obvious contenders, the Dodgers & Cardinals both make plenty of sense, but other likely first-league clubs are pretty well set at second: Cubs (Baez/Zobrist), Astros (Altuve), Rangers (Odor), Red Sox (Petunia), Blue Jays (Travis), Pirates (Harrison), Marlins (Gordon), and so on. Any non-Dodgers/Cardinals trade would probably need to happen with a team that is out this year but likes its chances next season.

So the question is, if you're the Twins' new GM, what do you do?


24 thoughts on “Bull (Market) Dozier?”

    1. Thanks; corrected above. I recalled reading $6 million per win last season. Seems like a pretty significant climb in the span of one year.

      1. I recall it being in the $7 million per win ranges for a few years. Going back through Dozier's career shows $8.1 million last year, $7.53 million in 2014, and $7.48 million in 2013.

  1. I'm on team Trade Him (if they can get a good return, of course), but I guess if the new leadership thinks they're closer contention than it seems they are, it's probably not wise. They need almost an entire rotation and the bullpen is bad, too. The FA starter class is brutal this year, so I'm not sure if there's a better way to get some good arms in the system than trading Dozier for a package around one.

  2. It's hard to imagine his trade value ever being higher than it is now. On the other hand, you certainly wouldn't want to give him away. So, as always, it depends on what teams are willing to offer in return, which is something that, as fans, we really can't know.

  3. First, thanks to CarterHayes for authoring this post- it's exactly the kind of thing that brought me to this site originally.

    And if it was up to me, I would trade Dozier. Even if Dozier doesn't fall off a cliff, he will regress and I'd rather have prospects right now. And speaking of prospects, they have Polanco ready to go for second base. I think a trade is going to happen once the new front office is solidified.

    1. Good point on Polanco. I haven't been paying enough attention - what are the nation's impressions of him this time around?

        1. Not to take anything away from Polanco, but he has about 1/3 the at bats that Mauer had at that age.

          1. Mauer's probably not a good comp for Polanco anyway. Mauer was such an extreme contact hitter he's going to be a bad comp for pretty much anyone. I'd be curious what his PECOTA comps are if anyone has access to that.

            But in the minors, you have:

            8.7% SO% -- Mauer
            13.3% SO% -- Polanco
            11.4% SO% -- Dozier

            10.9% BB% -- Mauer
            8.5% BB% -- Polanco
            9.6% BB% -- Dozier

            So Polanco strikes out more and walks less. This doesn't mean he'll be bad, it's just I don't think he's going to be anything like Mauer. That could be a good thing, anyway, it looks like he'll hit for more power:

            .096 ISO -- Mauer
            .125 ISO -- Polanco
            .111 ISO -- Dozier

            And typically power comes along a little as a player ages.

            Dozier himself actually looks like a better comp for Polanco. Dozier hasn't hit as well for average in the majors, but he's hitting for way more power in the majors than the minors (.197 ISO vs. .111 ISO).

            1. Polanco's current PECOTA comps:

              1. Tyler Pastornicky (2012)
              2. Jose Pirela (2012)
              3. Trevor Plouffe (2008)
              4. Jean Segura (2012)
              5. Jose Martinez (2008)
              10. Marcus Semien (2013)

              Polanco's long term forecast (based on rest-of-season PECOTA) puts him at 1.9-20 WARP through 2020/age 27. It projects him posting OBPs in the low .320s and SLGs in the .405-.414 range throughout, with 26-28 doubles, 12-13 homers, and 12-13 steals each season.

    2. And if Dozier doesn't regress, you're only getting two seasons of surplus value out of him, because if he doesn't regress then you'll have to pay an arm and a leg market rates to keep him. And to be fair, you're always going to have to pay some players market rate, but that tends to make the most sense when you have relatively few holes to fill and a few of them a really deep holes in your org. Right now the Twins have so many holes and it seems hard to think of Dozier as the sort of player that you build around.

      But getting good value in a trade is always easier said than done. It seems like a cop out, but it really depends on the particular players that teams are willing to give you in exchange for him.

        1. How about Dozier straight up for a new closer or a couple high-minors starters who eventually wind up in the bullpen?

  4. As I think about it, I think the Twins would have to get a pretty overwhelming offer to trade Dozier. One thing we don't consider when discuss things like this, but which the management of major league teams does consider, is fan reaction. There's already the perception out there, true or not, that "every time the Twins get a good player they get rid of him". Many of these same people complain about how much money Joe Mauer makes, but that's not the point. The point is that, right now, Brian Dozier is about the only thing Twins fans have to root for. I think the negative publicity they'd get by trading him for prospects would be more than most teams would want to try to withstand, especially if it's one of the first moves the new guy makes. If they trade Dozier, they'd have to be able to make a pretty convincing case that what they got in return was worth it.

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