October 30, 2013

Offseason Outlook: Brian Dozier

brian dozier twins

Over-hyped as a prospect locally after putting up good numbers at Single-A and Double-A in 2011 as a 24-year-old, Brian Dozier reached the majors in early 2012 and flopped both offensively and defensively. He hit just .234/.271/.332 in 84 games with an ugly 58-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, showing none of the strong strike-zone control he displayed in the minors, and possessed neither the range nor arm strength required to be a big-league shortstop.

Dozier was so bad that the Twins demoted him back to Triple-A in mid-August and then opted not to recall him from Rochester when rosters expanded on September 1, putting his future in doubt. Still in the Twins' plans in part because they lacked other infield options, he shifted from shortstop to second base this season and was handed the Opening Day job, but hit just .214/.259/.299 with a similarly ugly 35-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 games through the end of May.

And then something clicked. Dozier got hot in early June and spent the rest of the season looking nothing like his former self, hitting .255/.331/.458 with 16 homers, 30 doubles, and 42 walks in 106 games over the final four months. During that four-month stretch he had a .789 OPS, which would have ranked sixth among all MLB second basemen overall this season. Or, to put Dozier's improvement another way, look at how his first 125 games compare to his last 106 games:

DOZIER         PA     AVG     OBP     SLG     HR    XBH    BB    SO
First 125     508    .228    .267    .321      8     25    25    93
Last 106      455    .255    .333    .458     16     48    42    85

Dozier more than doubled his Isolated Power from .093 to .203 and nearly doubled his walk rate from 4.9 to 9.2 percent. He continued to strike out a lot and posted a poor batting average, but the gains in power and plate discipline were very encouraging. For the season as a whole he hit .244/.312/.414, which was exactly average for an MLB hitter. That may not seem like a big deal, but no Twins second baseman has been an average or better hitter since Todd Walker in 1998.

Whereas it took two months to get going offensively, Dozier looked like a natural at second base right away. Highlight plays and the huge improvement compared to his time at shortstop may have led to fans and media members slightly overstating how good Dozier was defensively, but the eyes and the numbers definitely agree that he was solid. Ultimate Zone Rating viewed him as an average second baseman and Defensive Runs Saved pegged him nine runs above average.

Dozier hitting a grand total of 16 homers in 1,613 plate appearances as a minor leaguer makes me skeptical that he can maintain the type of power he showed during the final four months, but middle infielders don't need to be 20-homer threats to be assets offensively. MLB second basemen combined to hit .260/.320/.385 over the past two years, which is certainly within reach for Dozier even if he comes back to earth a bit. Add in good defense and that's a nice all-around player.

Given his track record, age, and skill set there probably isn't a ton of upside left in Dozier, but he was the Twins' second-best position player in 2013 and obviously has the starting job locked up for 2014. He could face competition soon from prospect Eddie Rosario, but for now it's not really an issue because Rosario just turned 22 years old, has played only a half-season above Single-A, and may not even wind up sticking at second base defensively. Still, next year is big for Dozier.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

October 27, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #117: Coach Molitor and Recapping Ryan Interview

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included Paul Molitor finally joining the Twins' coaching staff, Terry Ryan's interview with Twins Daily, missing the point on payroll, being invited to podcast at Cub Foods, trying to start a comedy club club, MLB vs. NFL television ratings, avoiding dancing at all costs, getting ready for Jason Isbell, swapping social lives, and how to deal with people not realizing you're joking with special guest Randball's Stu.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 117

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

October 25, 2013


• Watching the evolution of the most popular girls names since 1960 is very fascinating and a little freaky. And there's a boys version too, although it's not nearly as interesting.

• Remember that "Twin Cities ladies you've probably dated" article from last week? There's a "Twin Cities guys you've probably dated" follow-up version, but as expected it doesn't include a "Blogger Guy" because none of us have ever actually had a date.

• Bloggers must be the coolest people in Japan.

• Twins Daily just posted their annual "Offseason Handbook" for the low, low price of $6.95, which includes a lengthy interview with Terry Ryan that I found maddening.

• Wednesday night Minnetonka police shot and killed a man less than a mile from my house.

• I took Time.com's "which state matches your personality" test and it said Wisconsin, which makes sense because I've always hated myself.

• I swear this is a headline from 2013: "Mase denies beef with Cam'ron."

• And in other 1990s rapper news, Ja Rule wants to write a cookbook of microwave recipes that he learned in jail and he broke that news to "Chopped" favorite Geoffrey Zakarian.

• I'm going to tonight's Jason Isbell concert at Varsity Theater. If any AG.com readers are going, let me know and I'll buy you a drink.

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded while sitting outside in the rain with a bunch of people staring at us and I sang a cappella Boyz II Men during the mailbag segment.

• My future wife sang another song, mashing up "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World and "Cough Syrup" by Young The Giant:

I'm committed to linking to her videos until she marries me or becomes super famous.

• What should the Twins do with Trevor Plouffe and will they actually do it?

• On a related note, Plouffe doesn't seem too broken up by me saying he shouldn't be a starter.

Meatsauce from KFAN is hosting "Singles Night" at Xcel Center after a Wild game next month, which sounds like something I'm going to have to attend.

• I've become obsessed with reading about other people's dates and locally the woman behind "Meeting Flannel" is writing some really entertaining stuff.

• And of course Christina Walkinshaw remains the queen of date blogging. Are there any other good date recappers I should be reading and/or following on Twitter?

• My favorite excerpt from Maureen O'Connor's article in New York Magazine titled "There Is No Difference Between Online Dating and 'Real-Life' Dating":

Though most adults have never used a dating website, 30 percent of those who dated sometime in the last decade admit to using social media to research potential dates. One in five have asked someone on a first date online. Though only one in three "single and looking" adults use dating websites, half have used the internet to flirt.

I use the internet exclusively to flirt.

• Aw, dang. They're not even going to blow up the Metrodome, it turns out.

Thanks to Dodgers.com now you can carve Vin Scully's face into a pumpkin for Halloween.

• Congratulations to Lenovo for becoming the first people interested in buying a Blackberry in at least five years.

• I had a college teacher from North Carolina and it was one of my favorite classes just because I liked hearing her talk, so I'll sign off on a study rating "southern" as the most attractive accent.

• I dare you to find a sexier picture:

aaron kfan coors

Well, maybe this one from earlier in the night.

Giddy up.

• Multiple people sent me this same GIF, which tells me I've properly established my persona.

• I do my "manfluencing" every Sunday night at Cub Foods. Also: Men are dumb and predictable.

• Speaking of which, the manager at Cub Foods in Minnetonka is campaigning for us to record a podcast there and I'm actually thinking about it. Gonna give Knollwood some time to step up.

• I want to be at Thanksgiving dinner when the researchers' parents ask what they've been up to and they explain figuring out that men walk slower when they're on a date with women.

Good news for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and Chelsea Peretti fans.

• I think Bill Withers is probably the most underrated musician of all time and Jesse Thorn got him to do a rare interview.

• My favorite quote from Esther Povitsky's chat with Lauren Greenberg: "I've been having to see a lot of doctors and dentists lately because I'm Jewish."

DMX and Snoop Dogg combined for one of the sweetest tweets you'll ever see.

Francisco Liriano was named Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News.

• Very proud to say I'm a part of this, although I guess it means I need to start writing.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Paul Molitor speaks Spanish"
- "Jim Thome net worth"
- "Doug Bernier new and exciting for the Twins"
- "What kind of diet should an 87-pound person be on?"
- "Best workout for a 29-year-old on an elliptical machine?"
- "Joe Nathan hot tub commercial"
- "Lean Cuisine diet success"
- "Link-O-Rama qualifications"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Alabama Pines" by Isbell:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

October 23, 2013

Offseason Outlook: Trevor Plouffe

trevor plouffe twins

Trevor Plouffe spent seven years in the minors as a light-hitting shortstop, never cracking a .750 OPS in a season, but then in 2011 during his first extended big-league opportunity it turned out he couldn't actually handle shortstop defensively. He shifted to third base in 2012 and got everyone's attention with a midseason power surge, which along with two months of power hitting at Triple-A in 2011 had people questioning if "light-hitting" was just as inaccurate as "shortstop."

Plouffe was handed the third base job with little in the way of potential competition and stayed in the starting lineup all year except for a disabled list stint for a strained calf. He started 126 of 140 games when not on the DL, logging 522 plate appearances and 1,036 innings defensively. And he was terrible. For all the power potential Plouffe showed in 2011 he managed just 14 homers and 22 doubles and his plate discipline remained ugly with 112 strikeouts versus 34 walks.

He also continued to look awful defensively and the numbers backed up that view for the second straight year, as Ultimate Zone Rating pegged Plouffe as 8.6 runs below average per 150 games. In a season when MLB third basemen as a whole hit .260/.324/.412, he hit .254/.309/.392 with poor defense to essentially rate as a replacement-level player. And at age 27, with 1,351 plate appearances in the majors, there's little reason to think Plouffe is likely to improve.

As a former first-round draft pick who took six years to reach the big leagues, almost immediately proved incapable of handling the position he'd played nearly that entire time, and showed flashes of turning into a completely different hitter Plouffe's journey to the majors was certainly an odd one. Ultimately, though, his .240/.300/.411 line in 351 games for the Twins is nearly identical to his .258/.320/.405 line in 839 games as a minor leaguer.

Plouffe simply isn't a starting-caliber player, offensively or defensively. That doesn't make him useless, but unfortunately the Twins' longstanding unwillingness to give flawed hitters a better chance to succeed by platooning them really hurts Plouffe. He's a career .278/.346/.495 hitter versus left-handers, which is enough production to have a place on most rosters. But he's also a career .227/.284/.382 hitter versus right-handers, which should be nowhere near the lineup.

If a team limited Plouffe's weakness offensively by playing him almost exclusively against lefties and limited his weakness defensively by using him strictly as a corner outfielder, first baseman, and designated hitter he could carve out a solid role as a part-timer. However, when asked to hit every day regardless of pitcher handedness and field a position he can't handle Plouffe becomes a liability. Given his track record, if that continues don't blame Plouffe, blame the Twins.

So where does that leave him for 2014? There are several left-handed hitters with whom Plouffe could platoon, but expecting that from Ron Gardenhire is wishful thinking. It's possible that the Twins could look to trade Plouffe or even non-tender him rather than hand out a small raise via arbitration, but more likely is that he'll remain atop the third base depth chart until stud prospect Miguel Sano is deemed ready to take over, which might be as soon as Opening Day.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

October 21, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #116: Big River, Big Timbre, and Big Papi

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded at Nordeast Big River Brew Fest and topics included why the Twins let David Ortiz go, finishing the Justin Morneau trade with Duke Welker, Metrodome-like attendance figures at Target Field, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps going in opposite directions, "Singles Night" at Xcel Center, podcast Hall of Famers, mailbag questions from listeners, the White Sox spending $68 million on a Cuban import, and singing Boyz II Men.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 116

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Here's the line to get into Nordeast Big River Brew Fest on Saturday afternoon:

big river beer fest line

Here's my co-host John Bonnes setting up the podcast in the rain while I offer zero help:

big river beer fest bonnes set up

Here's my view during the podcast:

big river beer fest my view

And here are the dancing guys banging sticks together that you can hear in the background:

big river beer fest dancing guys

This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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