Gleeman: Twins’ banjo hitter is baseball’s unlikeliest slugger

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on August 25, 2016:

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier leads all major-league middle infielders in homers this season with 30. He also led all major-league middle infielders in homers last season with 28. And dating back to 2013—his first full year in the big leagues—Dozier leads all major-league middle infielders in homers with 99, ahead of Robinson Cano (90) and Troy Tulowitzki (84). Dozier is baseball’s premier slugging middle infielder. How the hell did that happen?

Dozier was the Twins’ eighth-round draft pick in 2009 out of the University of Southern Mississippi, where he hit four home runs in 38 games as a senior and totaled 16 homers in 224 games overall. Baseball America’s pre-draft scouting report called him “more of a solid college shortstop than a big pro prospect” and Minnesota signed him for a measly $30,000 bonus. The picks directly before and after Dozier in the eighth round were both college players and they signed for $150,000 and $105,000, respectively.

He looked like organizational depth—a high-average, low-power college shortstop likely headed for second base or a utility role as a pro, which is a pretty common player type. In his first full season Dozier started the year at low Single-A and ended it at high Single-A, hitting just .275/.350/.349 with five homers in 127 games. His college strike-zone control had carried over, as he totaled more walks (60) than strikeouts (57), but Dozier managed just 25 extra-base hits in 580 plate appearances despite being a 23-year-old at Single-A.

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Originally published: August 25, 2016. Last Updated: August 25, 2016.