Dozier Vying To Become Legit Fantasy Option

When second baseman Brian Dozier lit up High-A and Double-A with a .320/.399/.491 slash line and 24 stolen bases in 2011, he started to rise up the Minnesota Twins’ organizational depth chart. Baseball America ranked him as the Twins’ 10th-best prospect coming into the 2012 season, and beginning the year in Triple-A, he was largely considered Plan B at the shortstop position. Unfortunately, he was unable to make anything but a negative impact at the big-league level in 2012, only compiling a .265 wOBA in 340 plate appearances and providing below-average defense at short.

This season, however, the Twins transitioned Dozier to second base and have essentially handed him the everyday role at the position. His overall numbers haven’t improved much, but he’s enjoying a torrid stretch at the plate. In fact, he’s performing so well that some fantasy owners have decided to jump on the bandwagon. His ownership is up to 20% in ESPN leagues.

Owners occasionally have to capitalize on hot streaks, and Dozier is certainly in the midst of one right now. Coming into Sunday’s games, he had been the best offensive second baseman in the league over the last 30 calendar days, posting a .411 wOBA — which is 14-points clear of second-best Howie Kendrick. No second baseman had hit more home runs (6) in the last 30 days, nor compiled a better ISO (.273). He’s simply been stinging the ball in recent weeks.

Of course, expecting a player to perform at such a high level — especially when it so dramatically outpaces his career norm — is foolish. There are some things to like about Dozier’s abilities at the plate this year, though, despite only hitting .232/.303/.382 on the season.

The most significant improvement for the 26-year-old second baseman has been refining his approach. He swung often and chased many bad pitches last year. This season, he’s swinging at fewer pitches overall and making better contact. He’s essentially improved in every plate discipline metric featured on the site.

Year O-Swing% Swing% Contact% SwStr%
2012 34.7% 48.0% 84.5% 7.3%
2013 29.6% 41.3% 86.3% 5.4%

One would think these improvements in approach would lead to better results. His seasonal numbers haven’t illustrated any different results, but his recent torrid stretch at the plate suggests they could finally be paying off. Again, this is not to suggest Dozier is suddenly one of the best second-base options in the league. He could, however, be improving as a player, and his potential for 15-20 steals makes any kind of step forward at the plate worth watching.

For Dozier to be worth owning in most leagues, either his batting average or his power need to markedly increase. In recent weeks, he’s enjoyed a power binge, but his historical numbers suggest fantasy owners shouldn’t expect sustained improvement in this category. Even in the minor leagues, the former eighth-round pick out of the University of Southern Mississippi has never totaled more than nine home runs. He’s already at seven this year so it seems likely he will eclipse his previous career-high, but that doesn’t appear to be anything more than a fluke.

His batting average, though, may have a chance to increase throughout the remainder of the season. He generally puts the ball in play and only has a career 1.07 GB/FB ratio, but his BABIP has stayed remarkably low. Perhaps that will begin to rise if his improved approach at the plate continues. Granted, that suggestion feels rather hollow and sounds more like general optimism, but it’s something to watch. If his BABIP increases and he can sustain a more-respectable batting average, his stolen base potential makes him an option in deeper leagues.

Right now, Brian Dozier doesn’t appear to be anything more than a desperation play for owners who are simply trying to ride a hot streak. He doesn’t hit for enough average or enough power to justify owning for the remainder of the season, at this point, and playing in a middling offense won’t do much for his run/RBI numbers. Still, it sincerely appears that Dozier has better plate discipline this year. If that can translate into sustained improvement somewhere in his numerical production, he’s worth owning in deeper leagues.

At the very least, this hot streak has grabbed my attention. I’m not close to slapping a “buy” tag on him, but he has certainly found himself on my watch list. He should be on yours, as well, in case some part of this hot streak proves somewhat sustainable.




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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).


12 Responses to “Dozier Vying To Become Legit Fantasy Option”

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  1. Alex says:

    Dozier or Rutledge?

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  2. As pointed out to me on twitter by FG/RG writer Brandon Warne – v RHP: .211/.275/.337 (OPS+ 77), v LHP: .295/.396/.523 (OPS+ 150)

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    • CK says:

      In that case, might be better to hold off on Dozier this week – Twins are scheduled to face 6 RHPs and 0 LHPs…

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    • The Flaming FIPs says:

      Dozier and Florimon would make a pretty good SS platoon for anyone who might own both. Florimon’s solid against RHPs (108 wRC+), hopeless vs. LHPs (-40 wRC+).

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  3. Nick says:

    Dj lemahieu is the guy u want

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  4. Dancing Homer says:

    Dozier or Kelly Johnson?

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  5. mom says:

    bunch of pussies

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  6. Jacks says:

    He crushed a 98 mph heater from Chris Sale for a 3 run HR last week. Was impressive.

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  7. Ruki Motomiya says:

    Dozier could be an interesting sleeper option or late round buy next year. I know he never hit too many HR in the Minors, but his ISO seemed to pop up some in 2011 and he went .105 ISO in 2012 in a SSS, which would put him just below this year’s Pedroia and Murphey. But in 685 MLB Plate appearances, he’s hit to the tune of a .122 ISO, which makes him a decent comparison to this year’s Zobrist. And, being 26, he should be entering the “Physical prime”. And he has wheels: 28 SB over 3 levels in 2011, for example, and 17 SB over his 685 MLB PA.

    I think going 15/15 (Or 15/20, if his wheels pop a bit more or he gets on base more to run) with a .250 BA isn’t a bad bet. Which still isn’t spectacular, but you can probably get Dozier at the tail end of a draft and it’d be some keen value then.

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  8. JJ says:

    If you guys had no choice but to choose one position player among the following below, which one would you choose and why?

    2B Brian Dozier, Min
    3B David Freese, LAA
    OF/1B Darin Ruf, Phi

    Also, between the following two pitchers which one would you favor most?

    RP John Axford, Cle (assuming he will be the Indians’ closer)
    SP Jose Quintana, CWS
    SP Wei-Yin Chen, Bal

    I know these guys don’t seem like keepers in a traditional league but I have to keep more than the normal, and whether I like it or not two of these guys will have to compose the tail end of my keeper list for 2014.

    Thanks in advance.

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    • I’ll take Brian Dozier over the other two. I don’t think Freese or Ruf will be difference makers at their position this year while Dozier has a shot at top 12 at his position. He will hit and run more than Freese and won’t approach a 30% K Rate like Ruf. Also is Ruf going to play? Most interesting stat on Dozier. He had 18 homers last year and only 3 of them were rated as “Just Enough”. 17% “Just Enough” vs. league average of 27%. If you want the argument against, he had only 6% of his homers considered “No Doubters” while league average is 18%. This is a long post, but basically, I think Brian Dozier is the only/most likely potential difference maker of the bunch. Hope this helps. Good luck in your league this year and ask me another question if you would like at http://www.fantasyfracture.com

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