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  • Position Analysis: Second Base

    Likely Starter: Brian Dozier
    2012 Stats: .234/.271/.332, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 33 R

    Potential Backups: Jamie Carroll, Eduardo Escobar

    From the outside, nothing about Brian Dozier’s career path suggested that stardom was in the cards. In fact, there was little to suggest that he possessed the capability of turning into an MLB regular.

    A Southern boy out of Mississippi drafted in the eighth round, Dozier debuted in 2009 with good numbers as a college draftee competing against more inexperienced players in rookie ball. He followed that up with an unimpressive .700 OPS in his first turn at full-season ball, looking the profile of a future utility guy, at best.

    Over those first couple years, Dozier performed well enough to move up the ladder but not well enough to catch the eyes of scouts or prospect analysts (save for maybe our guy Seth). Then, in 2011, he experienced a breakout. Between Class-A Ft. Myers and Class-AA New Britain, the shortstop batted .320/.399/.491 with 54 extra-base hits while holding his own defensively. In isolation those numbers were excellent; with his age and experience level taken into account, less so.

    Still, for the first time he had exhibited the potential to become a legitimate major-league asset. Shortstops that can get on base and flash some pop are valuable, especially in this organization.

    It was around this time that the Twins’ front office – or, at least, certain members of it – became enamored with Dozier. We started to see quotes from organizational personnel touting his abilities, and fawning media portrayals from scribes being fed by team sources. After his 2011 season, it became clear that Dozier was firmly entrenched in the team’s plans, almost regardless of his performance.

    Last year in spring training there were reports of internal debates over whether or not the infielder, who had played only 78 games above Single-A, should open the season on the big-league roster. Ultimately, he was optioned to Triple-A, but it wasn’t long before he got the call despite mediocre numbers in Rochester.

    Dozier joined the Twins in early May and played in the majors for about three month. He looked over-matched, struggling to put together good at-bats and seemingly taking the bad ones out onto the field with him. With both sides of his game failing to show the improvement they’d hoped to see, the Twins knocked him back down to Triple-A in August, where he played poorly over the remainder of the campaign and failed to earn even a September call-up.

    Despite all that, Dozier has been hailed as essentially a lock to make the starting lineup from the outset this spring, this time at second base. Coaches in camp have remarked that he looks like a different player now. He has made several nice plays at second and although he's batting just .244 in exhibition play, a 5-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45 plate appearances indicates that his plate approach has been sound.

    Carrying those strides into the games that count will be Dozier's challenge. All the club needs is for him to be steady with the mitt and adequate at the dish. Anything more would be a great bonus -- especially if he can establish himself as a legitimate No. 2 hitter -- but shouldn't be expected based on his performance up to this point. In 132 contests between Triple-A and the majors, he has batted .233 and struck out in 17 percent of his plate appearances. Despite all the verbal accolades he receives, Dozier has much to prove on the field.

    If he can't cut it, the Twins do have the luxury of a fairly reliable fallback plan. Jamey Carroll is in the second and final year of a contract he signed last offseason, and although he's hardly an offensive weapon (he slugged .317 last year) he's a steady player who makes the plays in the field and gets himself on base. Of course, he's also 39, so his ability to hold up for a full season could be in question. That's probably part of the reason he hasn't been viewed as a credible contender to start, along with the fact that feeding him at-bats does little for the club's rebuilding process.

    Looking down the farm for prospective second basemen, there's no one noteworthy in the pipeline until you reach Eddie Rosario, who hasn't played above Low-A and is no lock to stick in the infield.

    As such, the Twins are depending on Dozier to become a sturdy bridge, so it's hardly surprising that he's being handed the reigns, nor will it be surprising if he's given a pretty long leash.
    This article was originally published in blog: Position Analysis: Second Base started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I hope he makes it big, because it's going to be a very long season without him.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Excellent write-up Nick.
      I agree with Top Gun. If he doesn't perform pretty well it's going to suck. He, Escobar or Florimon have to play better than their past stats suggest.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Just got back from Florida and Brian started at 2B for the three games I watched. I am obviously no scout or expert, or even a blogger but holy crap did he pass the eye test.

      Guy was making plays left and right honestly. My Brother in law and father in law were with me and are what you'd probably consider to be casual fans. They were both asking me all kinds of questions about Dozier because of the plays he made. Neither remembered him from last year and I explained yah, he wasn't too memorable.

      He was a part of multiple double plays over the three games and especially Wednesday night he made at least two or three very good diving plays. Even saw him do the Jeter I'm running the other way and somehow throwing it to first jump throw. Dead on and out. He also go screwed by the ump on a very close play at first for a double play on Saturdays game.

      Just a ton of fun to watch him. I think at least defensively he and Florimon or Escobar are going to look good defensively this year. If he can swing the bat even a little better than last year and maybe get on base at a .350 clip he could be a great role player for the Twins.

      What did you think of him Nick when you were down in FL?
    1. twinslover's Avatar
      twinslover -
      Having Dozier and Carrol as the options for second base feels as comforting as a colonoscopy.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinslover View Post
      Having Dozier and Carrol as the options for second base feels as comforting as a colonoscopy.
      The key is to find an Asian doctor, they have smaller fingers.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      What did you think of him Nick when you were down in FL?
      I actually didn't see much of Dozier, he played in only one of the three games I saw and wasn't around the practice fields much when I was there.

      From chatting with some people, the sense I got is that everyone's very impressed with his progress in the field, but there are still doubts -- even internally -- about whether his bat is going to pan out.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      The key is to find an Asian doctor, they have smaller fingers.
      If this is key, then methinks you have been talked into going to the wrong doctors.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      The key is to find an Asian doctor, they have smaller fingers.
      If there are fingers involved in your colonoscopy, you probably want to find a new doctor.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      LOL, tbh I'm not at that age yet. That's not how they do it? Are you telling me the movies have lied to me?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      LOL, tbh I'm not at that age yet. That's not how they do it? Are you telling me the movies have lied to me?
      yep, it involves a rather unpleasant colon cleanse and a camera. Prostate exams on the other hand, can involve fingers.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      LOL, tbh I'm not at that age yet. That's not how they do it? Are you telling me the movies have lied to me?
      I'll get the mods mad at me again if I speculate on what kind of movies have given you this idea.

      Here's the straight poop:
      Colonoscopy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      Unless your doctor has fingers 1200–1500 mm in length that can take pictures, I recommend staying with established medical art.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Prostate exams on the other hand, can involve fingers.
      I've always imagined it is just like this! Can't wait!
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I was also in Florida last week. I agree with halfchest's assessment of Dozier's play. He had a terrific defensive game Wednesday night. He has hit a bit better of late, including going deep today. I have a bet with my brother that Dozier will hit over .260 and I like my chances. The key will be whether Dozier dramatically improves his OBP. After being a pretty patient hitter in the minors, Dozier didn't take many walks and had several "giveaway" at-bats. It seemed to me that BD really was pressing and with a better mental outlook, he should do much better.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Dozier is clearly a second baseman. Watch him after his first 10-15 games at short last yea--he starts to no charge properly and takes a scared approach to the ball. He has fixed that as a second baseman. He is the viable option for the coming year. Keep in mind that he should be more comfortable in his defense so that should affect his confidence at the plate.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I've always imagined it is just like this! Can't wait!
      I got very sick last year and had to have my prostate checked for the first time (I am not even 30 yet), the worst part is I had no time to prepare and my doctor was a 6 foot 5 big Polish dude, yeah...it wasn't very fun :/

      I told him I would prob not do well and he just laughed and said "don't worry I will be gentle"
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      This might sound crazy but Dozier could be very important this year. They desperately need at least one of the MI to swing the bat. While they have a good lineup in other areas they will have too many holes if Dozier, Floriman and possibly others are struggling at the plate.
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