Brian Dozier has emerged as one of the best second basemen in MLB
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Quick, guess how many players have scored more runs and/or stolen more bases than Brian Dozier through the first five weeks of the season.
The answer? Zero.
Dozier ended the 2013 season on a four-month hot streak, and he hasn't missed a step to start 2014, which is fairly remarkable considering the light bulb had yet to flip on at this time last year.
It seems Dozier has now emerged somewhat comfortably into that second tier of MLB second baseman - somewhere behind a top tier that includes longtime consistent performers Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and probably Chase Utley.
Tier two probably now includes Dozier, Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, Ian Kinsler and maybe Neil Walker.
Matt Carpenter would be on this list, but he now plays third base.
Since the beginning of the 2013 season (roughly seven months of games), Dozier ranks second among second basemen in home runs (26), fourth in stolen bases (25), seventh in Wins Above Replacement (4.8), fourth in runs scored (103) and 11th in weighted on-base average (.328).
And remember, Dozier was mostly atrocious last April, so if we just take his last 626 plate appearances - almost a full season dating back to last May - he is hitting .254/.341/.455 with 25 home runs, 88 runs scored, 66 RBIs, 21 stolen bases (only five caught) and a .351 wOBA. These are pretty fantastic numbers for a middle infielder who also happens to play some very slick defense.
What about his mediocre batting average? To be honest, it really isn't a big deal. Batting average really only matters within the context of a hitter's on-base and slugging percentages. Dozier makes up for a low batting average by hitting for power and drawing walks. Plus, his .250 batting average on balls in play this season is likely to move up several points as the season progresses.
Are we at the point where Dozier's success has surpassed the fluke stage? I think it's safe to say yes.