Wetmore: 5 thoughts on tiny details helping Dozier join the 20-20 club
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Nolasco gave up four earned runs in his second start since returning from the disabled list. He struck out six batters and walked only one, but the Twins lost, 5-0, to the Indians to fall a season-low 15 games below .500.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Wednesday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Brian Dozier swiped his twentieth bag in the first inning to become the first Twins player with 20 home runs and 20 steals since Torii Hunter (2004).
I wrote in a 5 thoughts column at the end of April that "On pace" stats are mostly worthless at this time of the season, but just for fun: Dozier was on track for to surpass a 50-steal, 50-homer season until replays ruled him out [on a stolen base attempt] in the third inning. Even if he plays every game, it's a safe bet he won't reach either lofty mark.
Can he be a 20-homer, 20-steal guy? Yeah, definitely.
Dozier is the sixth player in Twins history to achieve the benchmark, according to the Twins. He joins Larry Hisle (28 HR/21 SB in 1977), Kirby Puckett (31 HR/20 SB in 1986), Marty Cordova (24 HR/20 SB in 1995), Corey Koskie (26 HR/27 SB in 2001), Torii Hunter (29 HR/23 SB in 2002 and 23 HR/21 SB in 2004).
So far this season, Carlos Gomez is the only other player in MLB in the 20-20 club.
1b. Dozier has credited Tom Brunansky with helping him add power to his swing by using his strong lower half. He credited Paul Molitor and Joe Vavra on Wednesday for helping him pick up small details on the bases. He said the information they provide him before games has "transformed everything."
"The more in-depth, so to speak, it takes me to what went through Molitor's head when he was on the basepaths. The amount of times, the tendencies, every little tidbit, all the information, it's helped a lot," Dozier said.
He stole 24 bases across two minor league levels in 2011.
1c. One of those tiny details was on display in the first inning, when Dozier stole No. 20 against T.J. House.
"The only time he picks over [to first] it's not really a high leg kick, it's pretty straight up," Dozier said. "I know he mixed in one [pickoff attempt] with Santana on a high leg kick, but that's a very low percentage he does that. I saw that and took a risk."
To know the percentage of times House uses different wind-ups is a fascinating detail that you wouldn't necessarily think about when you're watching the game from afar. But it makes sense on the basepaths, and Dozier's calculated risk paid off.
2. Joe Mauer turned a nice 3-6-3 double play in the fifth inning. It seems Mauer's fielding at first base has improved after a rocky transition when he made first base his permanent home at the beginning of the season.
"He's starting to get better over there," Terry Ryan said before Wednesday's game. "He's improving daily. He's a great target, he's got very good hands, he's athletic, he's got enough agility.
"Probably at some point in his career you're going to start talking about that upper echelon with the defense over at first base."
Mauer made his first error of the season Tuesday, a throwing error to second base. Error counts aren't a great metric to evaluate defense, because it ignores range. But in truth, some of the more advanced defensive metrics aren't yet perfect, and can be dangerous to use for evaluation in a sample size smaller than a season.
3. Jordan Schafer made two good catches in left field Monday, one of them was a diving grab to end the sixth inning. Schafer has been a huge improvement over Josh Willingham in terms of range in left field. That's another example of why errors aren't the best evaluation tool on defense. Willingham wouldn't have got his glove on either of the balls that Schafer caught.
4. Active rosters expand from 25 players to 40 the Monday after next, and the Twins are starting to put together their list of players for September call-ups.
Terry Ryan will travel to Rochester soon to scout the Red Wings, and he said that how the players perform while he's there could influence the decision whether or not to call them up in September.
"I have a preliminary idea. Gardy has a preliminary idea," Ryan said. "And when I get out there [to Rochester] I'll finalize it with that staff. Visualize it with my own eyes. Some of those guys will have to perform in front of me. There's nothing wrong with that. They know why I'm out there."
5. The Twins have four games in three days with the Detroit Tigers, including a split doubleheader Saturday. Trevor May will pitch the night game, and it seems like Yohan Pino will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start the morning game. No player needs to be sent down to make room for Pino. Since it's a doubleheader, the Twins will get a 26th player for the day.