first pitch: 7:10
Kershaw -vs- Gio Gonzalez
How many hits with Yelich get this series? Will Brian Dozier see an action?
first pitch: 7:10
Kershaw -vs- Gio Gonzalez
How many hits with Yelich get this series? Will Brian Dozier see an action?
So. Anyone for another Berrios shutout? Yeah. That would be swell.
Day game alert!
Finishing at .500 would not be considered a success this year, would it? With that being the case, I wonder if we get 424 comments today?
In honor of Brian Dozier joining Harmon Killebrew in the 40 homer club, here are the single season franchise leaders in HR by position, presented three ways because "most homers by a [position player] is a very squishy conversation.
50% of games at primary position
100% of games at primary position
as X position
On a recent episode of Effectively Wild, the hosts were presented with the following scenario:
Let's say you run a team filled entirely with league-average players, and you're given the unique & magical option of replacing as many of those players as you like with Barry Bondses. How many Barrys do you take, where do they play, where do you hit them in the order, and how many games does the team win?
The hosts decided to answer the question three times: once for 2016 Barry Bonds, once for 1993 Barry Bonds, and once more for 2004 Barry Bonds. The hosts assumed that every starting position player & member of the rotation were roughly 2-win players, every bench player was slightly better than replacement level, and every reliever a 1-win player. Finally, they used the lineup analysis tool at Baseball Musings to generate a rough idea of how many runs their Bonds-fueled offense would score per game.
Let's substitute "Barry Bondses" with "Brians Dozier" and contemplate the scenario twice: once with full 2016 Brian Dozier, and once with post-17 June 2016 Brian Dozier. What are our answers?
On the full season, Dozier has posed a .349 OBP and .580 SLG. His value according to your preferred metric is 6.0 rWAR, 5.7 fWAR, or 4.7 WARP. Since 17 June, Dozier has a .369 OBP and .746 SLG. A league-average hitter across MLB would have a .322 OBP and .419 SLG, which is just about what Kurt Suzuki has managed this year (.319/.421). A lineup of store-brand Kurts Suzuki would score 4.510 runs per game.
Using the 1989-2002 model of the lineup tool, a lineup of eight full season Brians Dozier, plus a store brand Suzuki at catcher, would score 6.375 runs per game. A lineup of eight post-17 June Brians Dozier plus IGA Suzuki would score 8.177 runs per game.
Obviously you deploy a Dozier at second & shortstop, where he has significant experience, at DH, and at 1b (I mean, Ryan Howard plays there...). Dozier's roughly an average defender at second (Fangraphs has his UZR/150 at -0.9 over 5144 innings). At short he's a bit worse: -5.0 over 732.1 innings. But then it starts getting tricky.
Dozier has exactly 20 games at 3b in the pro level, none since he played 6 innings at third for New Britain in 2011. Reaction time is the big unknown and Dozier's limited range at shortstop becomes less important. Michael Cuddyer had a -8.1 UZR/150 at 2b over 532.1 innings and was -10.2 at 3b. Assuming Dozier's arm is weaker than Cuddyer's, but that he gets to a few more balls than his former teammate, we could say Dozier's probably in the neighborhood of a -3.5 defender at third.
Dozier has never played outfield in pro ball. Cuddyer was -8.1 over 7546.2 innings in right field. Cuddyer clearly made a deal with the SSS devil to get his 34.4 UZR/150 in 36 blessedly uneventful innings in center. Dozier is younger and more mobile than Cuddyer was, a plus for potential deployment in center, but his arm becomes more of a factor in the outfield. Frankly, your guess is as good as mine.
Since Dozier is a middle infielder you can relieve yourself of the burden of carrying a Denny Hocking on the roster to cover up-the-middle positions on the bench, but you probably need a backup catcher with Chris Herrmann's resume. Whether you carry eleven or twelve pitchers probably depends on your feelings about a bunch of 1-win relievers. Of course, you could elect to have a six-man rotation to give yourself one more 2-win starter.
So, how many Brians Dozier do you take – full season and post-17 June – to make up your team? Where do you play them?
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?
Dozzy's flexing his manmuscles and going all the way all over the place, baby.
Ugh, I hate this song so much. Couldn't find a live version of Sam & Dave's “Knock It Out of the Park” though.
Brian Dozier got another leadoff home run because that's just what he does.
Let's hope Berrios takes a page of of Buxton's White Sox playbook.
Tonight's game features the Twins best starter* of 2016 - Ervin Santana (6-10, 3.54 ERA, 118 ERA+, 1.201 WHIP) who, in pitching for a bad team, is 4-3 in his past 7 starts (49 IP, 13 ER's, 11BB:40K, 2.39 ERA, with an average of 4 runs of support) including a 2-0 loss to Atlanta on July 26, and a 2-1 loss to Kansas City on Aug 21.
The Twins offense will see Jose Quintana, quietly(?) having the best year of his career (11-9, 2.77 ERA, 147 ERA+, 1.103 WHIP). Quintana, also pitching for a (pretty) bad team, is also 4-3 in his past 7 starts (48.2 IP's, 10 ER's, 8BB:38K, 1.85 ERA, also with an average of 4 runs of support).
Based on the remarkable similarity of their results over their past 7 starts, tonight could be a very fun game if you like pitching.
The Twins are 2-2 against Quintana this season, losing their first two meetings, but beating him on June 28th & July 29th (though he recorded 8 & 9 SO's in those games respectively).
-The Twins are 49-84 (6 wins behind their Pythagorean projected 55-79) and are on pace for 102 losses.
-60-102 would tie their worst W-L% since moving to Minnesota - their 1982 record.**
-A loss tonight ties the Twins longest losing streak of 14 games, set between May 19 - June 2, 1982. (The Senators lost 18 consecutive games at least four times: 1903, '04, '48 & '59.)
-Thankfully, they've got a ways to go to catch the '88 Orioles at 21 games lost in a row, or the modern-era-leading 1961 Phillies with a 23 game losing streak.
On a more positive note, highlighted by dw early this morning, Dozier has accumulated 5.4 WAR*** this year, and at 2.5 WAR so far, Joe Mauer is only .6 WAR behind Kirby Puckett on the Twins career WAR list at 50.3, good for 6th all time.
*No other Twins starter has an ERA below 5, though reliever Ryan Pressly is 6-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 62 games
**There are 9 Senators teams with worse W-L%'s
***A career best. Maybe it goes without saying that 32 HR's and 81 RBI's (so far) are also career bests
Dozier gives the Twins the early lead!