Twins Brian Dozier: Draft High on Slugger in 2017

Sep 6, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) hits a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) hits a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Twins have had a rough run this summer, and so have plenty of fantasy owners. Second baseman Brian Dozier has been the one standout from a lost season, so should you consider drafting him high in 2017?

The 2016 season has already forgotten about the Minnesota Twins. The most irrelevant team in baseball will likely finish dead last pretty comfortably come October, a huge downfall from their 83-win season a year ago.

There’s been so little to celebrate in Minnesota lately, but just when things looked bleak, Brian Dozier pops out of nowhere and reminds us that he is somebody we should be watching.

Two seasons ago, Dozier was the man. You wanted to pick him in the first or second rounds of your draft if you could, because after a .242/23HR/71RBI/21SB season in 2014, he was a guy that looked like he had a lot of star potential.

If you drafted Dozier last year, you probably weren’t too mad either. He still progressed and came close to his projections, hitting 28HR’s, earning All Star honors and showing he can consistently hit for power. Where most owners were disappointed though, was in just about every other category.

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Dozier’s RBI’s hardly improved across 2014 into 2015, where he hit only six more than he did a season ago. It wasn’t the production owners were looking for day-to-day, but the biggest killer by far, was walks.

In 2014 Dozier walked a career high 89-times – since then it’s all slowly gone downhill. He reached first base on balls only 61-times in 2015, and things haven’t looked better this season. His steals dropped off too, from the career high 21SB in 2014, to 12 the very next year.

After so much promise, it’s no surprise owners were left entirely frustrated when Dozier plateaued.

If you drafted Dozier this year, it’s unlikely you selected him very high at all. Dozier slipped to the middle to late rounds in many drafts, and was lost amongst the flurry of expectations surrounding guys like Byron Buxton and Max Kepler in Minnesota.

If you did draft Dozier this year though, congratulations, you did something right.

You’ve probably already heard, but Dozier is on the path to making history. It will take something amazing, but he could be the thirteenth player to have hit 30 or more home runs in the second half of the season, a feat only guys like Jose Bautista and Sammy Sosa can attest to.

So where was this version a year ago?

The simple fact is, Dozier is hitting for a ton of extra base hits. Aside from his 39HR’s, just two behind league leader Mark Trumbo, Dozier has hit 33-doubles and five triples, making him so valuable now in any league format.

The other weird part about Dozier’s amazing breakout season compared to last, is he’s done it all in reverse. Typically we’re used to watching Dozier annihilate pitchers in the first half of the season, only to slow down post All Star break. In 2016, he’s done the opposite, and instead of looking for contact on pitches, he’s now simply focusing on swinging for power.

Predicting whether or not Dozier can continue this run into 2017 is a big wait and see, but his approach to hitting and his statistics show plenty of promise. Obviously pitchers are trying to figure out how they can get around this guy, but Dozier continues to look for pitches on the inside, and when he gets them, he pulls the ball to left centre field, where the majority of his home runs will land.

Mentally, Dozier looks the part. He’s a changed man since the end of July, and he’s destroying pitches high middle and low middle in the strike zone. Really, it’s a mystery why pitchers aren’t throwing him low and away.

With such a small sample size, the last month of the season should say a lot if you’re a Dozier owner, especially in a keeper league. The good news is, Dozier is striking out less during his recent power splurge, a huge turnaround from his career high 148 strikeouts a year ago. He is hitting more fly outs, and he’ll probably never steal 21-bases again, but with 53 walks this year to date, the improvement is pretty obvious.

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A ton of home runs, like the seven he’s hit already in September, is just about all you can ask for from Dozier. If he’s hitting for this kind of power, he’s worth drafting in the first or second round in 2017, and with so many guys like Trumbo, Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy finding their swing again, go ahead and throw Dozier into the very same mix of elite sluggers ahead of next season.