Twins second baseman Brian Dozier on Monday hit three home runs. His team lost to the Royals by a score of 11-5 (box score). Consider the following tweet to be the Twins' 2016 season -- and Dozier's 2016 season -- writ small ...
Brian Dozier: 1st player since Chris Young in '09 to hit 3 HR on a team that still loses by 6+ runs (via @baseball_ref Play Index obvs)— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) September 5, 2016
After Monday's loss, the Twins are now on pace to go an MLB-worst 60-102, which would make for their first 100-loss season since 1982. Dozier, meantime, is now batting .279/.350/.576, and he's just two homers shy of joining Harmon Killebrew as the lone Twins to hit at least 40 bombs in a season. To put that slash line in perspective, the average second baseman this season has a line of .276/.334/.436. He's crushing the ball in any context, but he's doing so to an even greater extent by the standards of his position.
What's also remarkable is that Dozier has authored such a 2016 body of work despite a brutally slow to start to the season. In April, Dozier batted a measly .191/.276/.340. He was similarly punchless in May, as he hit .215/.315/.316. Since the calendar flipped to June, though, Dozier's been one of the best extended runs of his career. Coming into Monday's action, Dozier owned a line of .312/.375/.673 since June 1 with 30 homers in 86 games. And then he went out and did this ...
So basically Dozier has been slugging more than .700 for half a season. Dozier's tallied at least 23 homers in each of the last three seasons, and he's done this despite, it would seem, his sub-6-foot stature. He does that by hitting balls in the air and at the proper launch angle for extra-base power ...
His exit speed is just a tad under MLB average, but launch angle is much higher than league avg. 89.53/89.58 exit, 14.45/9.98 launch.— Craig Hyatt (@HyattCraig) September 5, 2016
As well, Dozier shows some speed on the bases, so he's more than just a power hitter. Adding to Dozier's value is that he's signed a team-friendly contract. In March of 2015, Dozier inked a $20 million extension that ran through 2018. After this season, he'll have two years and $15 million left on that extension, which means he's locked up through his age-31 season.
Now comes the issue of Dozier's worth to the Twins. The Twins have a strong enough base of young talent, and they're in line to claim the top overall pick of the 2017 draft. That said, they don't profile as contenders during the lifetime of Dozier's contract. It's possible, of course, especially with two wild-card berths in each league, but it's not likely. The Twins, then, may be best served to shop Dozier this upcoming offseason.
Rumors swirled about Dozier leading up to this year's non-waiver trade deadline. That's not surprising, given, as mentioned, his power outputs, ability to man a key defensive position, and bargain contract. Now, though, we're another month-plus into the season, and Dozier's gotten even better. This isn't to say that Dozier is going to be a first-order power threat moving forward, but his performance since June has indeed shown that he's capable of being just that over a span of at least 13 weeks or so. Whether there's any stickiness to Dozier's surge isn't the point, though. The point is that he's probably increased his perceived value on the trade market.
What will also contribute to the trade value of a player like Dozier is the thin free-agent class of this upcoming offseason. You're leading impact bats are Yoenis Cespedes (assuming he opts out of his Mets contract) and Edwin Encarnacion. You're top available second baseman will likely be Neil Walker, whose current season recently ended and who's facing back surgery. Like we said: It's a thin market.
Likely 2017 contenders in need of a second baseman may include the Dodgers, Mets, Royals, and perhaps Cardinals, among others. Obviously, additional second base needs among contenders may materialize before spring training, and possible position shifts may also swell the market for Dozier.
When you're talking about a productive player on the right side of the defensive spectrum who's affordable, in his prime, and trending upward in terms of power, you're talking about an impressive trade haul. For the Twins, the prospect of adding more controllable, high-upside young talent to the fold is more than enough reason to shop Dozier this winter. If nothing else, the veteran second baseman is giving his team options and making it more likely he winds up playing for a winner in 2017.