When the offseason began, a Brian Dozier trade looked inevitable. The Twins’ second baseman was one of the majors’ most productive players last season, offering elite power, good baserunning, solid plate discipline and steady second-base defense. That all-around skill set would cost just $15 million over the next two years. So as spring training begins, why is Dozier still preparing to play for a rebuilding Twins club?
Both a steep asking price and an abundance of good second basemen hindered a deal. But these reasons may not fully explain why Dozier is still bound for Fort Myers this month. After all, negotiations often begin with high asking prices before parties find a middle ground. Plus, even though the keystone is now a good offensive position, many teams would net an upgrade by acquiring Dozier. Perhaps there was more at play — namely, doubt in the minds of club executives that the pull– and fly-ball-prone Dozier could repeat his first-rate power-hitting. Consider what Bill James said about Dozier on the second-base edition of MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now” series:
“You guys are too high on Dozier. A lot of those home runs are 360-footers that just skim over the wall. I don’t buy that.”
As data from ESPN’s Home Run Tracker affirms, Dozier’s home runs are often unimpressive.
|Tracker Stat||Dozier’s Average||Percentile, Hitters 10+ HR||Percentile, Hitters 30+ HR|
|True distance (feet)||396.7||33rd||10th|
|Exit velocity (mph)||103.5||43rd||16th|
Spray angle is calculated as degrees away from the pull-side foul line for both RHB and LHB.
By true distance, exit velocity, and spray angle, Dozier’s dingers often traveled shorter and at a lower velocity than his peers’ blasts, all while keeping closer to the pull-side foul line. When compared only to his power-hitting brethren — those with 30-homer campaigns — Dozier slips under the 17th percentile mark in every stat. Do the pedestrian home-run metrics hint at a coming power outage?