FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Twins did not trade Brian Dozier this winter.
It feels like that needs to be written again and again to serve as a counterweight to all the trade rumors surrounding their popular second baseman between the end of October and spring training report date.
We outlined the list of reasons for and against trading Dozier from the perspective of the Twins, and one thing seemed to appear again and again in these discussions. For a star player, Dozier sure is volatile.
That was the line of thinking, anyway.
Despite significant slumps at the end of the 2014 and 2015 seasons – and an incredible slump to start 2016 followed by an even more incredible power surge – Dozier’s numbers always seem to be there at the end of the season.
(A note on Weighted Runs Created Plus: It’s a stat designed so that 100 is average, and, for example, 110 is 10% better than average. The MLB average for second baseman the past three years has been 88, 93 and 101, respectively, so Dozier’s performance compared with his peers has always been impressive during this stretch.)
So you can call him a streaky hitter if you want to. The numbers are there.
Will he hit 42 home runs again though? That’s tougher to answer. And we’ll enlist the help of FanGraphs author Gerald Schifman, who tackled the issue in a recent blog post.
At this site, we’ve written about his extreme pull tendencies and his home run rate on fly balls. We’ve written about the Twins’ apparent decision not to trade him to the Dodgers for a trade package including young starting pitcher Jose De Leon.
This FanGraphs post goes deeper, using Statcast data and other information to fit a linear regression to predict home run rate (HR/PA).
It goes pretty in depth and you should read the post if you’re interested in this stuff. The short answer is that Schifman sees Dozier as a 30-homer guy more than a 40-homer guy. I think that’s a fairly non-controversial opinion. Dozier gets dinged a little bit because his batted-ball distance is not as far as other sluggers and the ball doesn’t jump off his bat quite as quickly as other feared hitters.
But as I’ve written before, Dozier is incredible in that he has a special approach that squeezes every ounce of value out of his ability. If you walked by him in the street your first reaction wouldn’t be to assume he’s a big power hitter in Major League Baseball.
But that’s what he is. And if he stays in a Twins uniform and hits 30 home runs, that’s a pretty good return on investment. We could quibble over whether or not the Twins could maximize their return even further, but it only seems fair to stop short of criticizing Dozier for being ‘only’ a 30-home run hitter.