Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Twins by position: Second base (part one)

Brian Dozier has
bounced between
the leadoff, second
and third spots in
the Twins batting
There may not be a more misunderstood talent on the Twins roster than Brian Dozier -- at least by the traditionalists in the team's broadcast booths.

I don't know how many times I have heard Dozier described on air by one of the broadcasters as "a prototype  Number Two hitter."

Set aside the sabermetric contention that the second spot in the lineup should be filled by the team's BEST hitter. What Dan Gladden and Bert Blyleven are thinking about is the traditional second hitter: a contact hitter, adept at the hit-and-run, generally not much power but a decent batting average.

That's not Dozier. Dozier is a pull hitter who strikes out 120 times a year and averages about 20 homers a season. He hasn't cracked .250 yet in his career.

It's the second-base stereotype. Teams generally find a lead off and/or No. 2 hitter from the middle infield because (a) shortstop and second base demand some mobility defensively and (b) speed is a desirable trait at the top of the order. (It is elsewhere in the order too, but tradition calls for speed at the top.)

Dozier's a second baseman who produces at the plate, just not in the way the traditional thinkers expect. If he were a third baseman with the same numbers, he'd make sense to them. (He'd also be Trevor Plouffe, but that's a future post.)

The Twins had a pretty productive lineup last season, and Dozier was no small part of that. He had 81 games -- half the season -- in the second spot, and it worked, but not because he's a traditional No. 2 hitter.

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