Trust me, this comes as a shock to me too and I’ve been writing about the Twins multiple times per week for the past dozen years.
Brian Dozier was never considered a particularly good prospect, never put up especially strong numbers in the minors, and didn’t debut for the Twins until at age 25. And he struggled initially on both sides of the ball, posting a .603 OPS while being moved from shortstop to second base as a rookie.
Fast forward three years and he’s the best second baseman in baseball, although the majority of the baseball-watching world hasn’t seemed to notice yet.
Dozier had a breakout 2014 season in which he hit 23 homers, stole 21 bases, drew 89 walks, scored 112 runs, and posted a .762 OPS in 156 games. But the Twins were terrible and his batting average was low, so it mostly went unnoticed. Now the Twins are less terrible, his batting average is a little higher, and Dozier is having an even better season with 16 homers, 58 runs scored, and an .869 OPS through 75 games.
Some people will never stop focusing on batting average, but that’s a very outdated approach to evaluating baseball players and since the beginning of last season Dozier leads all MLB second basemen in home runs, walks, and runs scored while also ranking second in OPS and RBIs. Factor in defense as well and he leads all MLB second basemen in Wins Above Replacement since the beginning of last season:
SECOND BASEMEN WAR Brian Dozier 7.6 Jose Altuve 6.7 Dustin Pedroia 6.5 Ian Kinsler 6.5 Dee Gordon 6.1
As a prospect Dozier was a light-hitting, contact-making shortstop afterthought, but he’s turned himself into a power-hitting, walk-drawing offensive force to emerge as the best second baseman in baseball at age 28.