Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You're Wrong About Brian Dozier, And So Is MLB

Just under a month ago, I told you that Brian Dozier is entering elite territory amongst Major League Baseball. Since that time, Dozier has done nothing but squash my silly notion. Instead of entering elite territory, he instead has defined what elite is amongst Major League Baseball. At this point, you're probably wrong about the Twins second basemen, and so is the league itself.

We are less than a week away from the midsummer classic. Major League Baseball has unfortunately pinned World Series implications on the exhibition, and while many players still overlook that sentiment, the fact is that this does count. Expecting fans voting solely for the biggest names or their favorite jerseys isn't going to draw rave results, but it's probably time Major League Baseball is held accountable.

As the fan voting took place for the All Star Game in Cincinnati this year, we watched as the Royals fans came out of the woodwork and make a mockery of the system. Even the Kauffman faithful had to find humor in the fact that their .231/.240/.307 slashing second basemen was pacing a portion of the voting. While it isn't unexpected to have snubs on the starting level, it's pretty ugly that manager Ned Yost failed to get it right as well.

Last season, the Minnesota Twins watched Brian Dozier blossom before their eyes. Going from a relative unknown, to one of the most surprising power hitters in the game, Dozier was given some national relevance in the Home Run Derby. While it was the consolation prize for an All Star appearance he was more than qualified for, it was a stepping stone.

After being amongst the best in the big leagues in runs scored, and securing a shiny new 4-year, $20 million contract, how would Dozier respond? The answer is by continuing to be the best second basemen in baseball and it's not particularly close. Dozier's 7.6 WAR since the beginning of 2014 ranks above all other qualifiers, and Houston's Jose Altuve is next closest with a 6.7 mark.

On the season, Dozier leads the big leagues in runs scored (63) and is on pace for career highs in doubles, triples, hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average and OPS. In fact, it's actually that last number that might be most impressive when looking at the Twins second basemen.

Often times, detractors will point to Dozier's average as a reason why he shouldn't be regarded amongst the games best. Despite his .245 career mark (.260 in 2015), Brian Dozier's value at the plate goes far beyond the realm of simply second basemen.

With an .849 OPS, the Twins second basemen lays claim to the 15th best mark in all of baseball. Of those 14 players ahead of him, the only not to be named All-Stars; Alex Rodriguez (.902) and Brett Gardner (.854, also in the final vote). When adjusting for ballparks with OPS+, Dozier falls just one spot to 16th. Should you choose to disregard numerical focuses, players behind Dozier in OPS include Jose Abreu, Dustin Pedroia, and Adam Jones.

Bringing it back full circle to the context of the All Star Game, Dozier looks poised to be snubbed yet again in the Final Vote. Once again placing the duty on the fans, Dozier goes up against Xander Bogaerts, Yoenis Cespedes, Brett Gardener, and Mike Moustakas. If the initial vote was any indication as to how this Final Vote may go, the Royals Moustakas appears to have the edge.

Looking at Moustakas, the biggest Dozier detractors are forced to come full circle. After scuffling through the first four seasons of his career, Moustakas has put it together for Kansas City. He's got seven home runs, 31 RBI, and is slashing .301/.357/.436. That last bit of information is the most important however. Despite hitting .41 points higher than Dozier, Moustakas owns an OPS (.793) a stout .56 points lower.

It probably can't be made any clearer, Brian Dozier hitting for average absolutely, positively, does not matter. As long as he is getting on base, and generating extra base hits, the Twins second basemen will remain the best in baseball.

At the end of the day, or maybe better said, the first half of the Major League Baseball season, Brian Dozier was failed. He may not care on the surface whether or not he was included in a meaningless* exhibition, but the fans failing to acknowledge him failed, Ned Yost failed, and Major League Baseball failed.

All Star Game aside, Brian Dozier continues to come to work, and get the job done. It's probably in all of our best interests to take notice sooner rather than later. Until then, he'll keep hitting walkoff shots and flipping his doubters the...bat.

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