Here are the two unlikely sluggers pacing baseball in second-half home runs
Nobody expected this from Brian Dozier and Jedd Gyorko
Baseball is prone to weirdness. We all know that -- heck, some of us are fond of the weirdness. But in case you needed a reminder of how screwy things can get, just consider who leads each of the leagues in second-half home runs. It's not Mark Trumbo or Edwin Encarnacion or Josh Donaldson in the American League; likewise, it's not Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado in the National League.
Dozier was, throughout during his developmental days, expected to become a Freddy Sanchez-like banjo hitter -- or a high-average, low-wattage type. He homered 16 times in his minor-league career, and never more than nine times in a single season. Naturally, he's hit a majors-best 19 home runs in the second half of 2016, and has set a new career-high in each of his four full big-league seasons.
Dozier leads baseball in post-break slugging percentage, too, checking in at .699. For those who are into advanced metrics, you can make the case that he's been one of the six or so most valuable second-half hitters in baseball, joining names like Joey Votto, Mike Trout, and Miguel Cabrera. Pretty good -- and all owed to some mechanical adjustments he made years ago to enable improved hip function, and to a fondness for the high hard stuff, since 19 of his 33 yakkers have came on mid-to-eye-level fastballs:
The Twins' general misery has caused Dozier's rise to get lost in the shuffle, and it'll probably cost him the award-season recognition he deserves. But make no mistake, he's become one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball -- and one who packs a serious wallop.
Gyorko, meanwhile, was so well regarded that many of us pundits wondered why the Cardinals would trade a solid outfielder in Jon Jay to assume what was left on Gyorko's $35 million contract -- about $25.5 million, excluding what the Padres pitched in. Oops.
Gyorko's 17 second-half home runs are the best in the NL, and while he hasn't been as productive as a hitter overall as Dozier has been -- blame it on the 99-point differential in batting average on balls in play -- he has shown a little more range in his home-run landing spots. Whereas Dozier's more about pulling the ball to left and left-center, Gyorko has exited to center field a fair amount:
Credit Gyorko's ascendance to a narrative crêpe topped with mechanical adjustments, a fresh slate, and -- perhaps most importantly -- an exit from Petco Park.
Whatever the case, the most impressive part of his season is that he's done all this while serving as a rover. Gyorko has seen time at every infield position sans catcher, and has, at times, been tasked with playing multiple spots within the same game. Maybe that's helped in some way -- perhaps to keep his mind off his hitting? Who knows. But he's made the Cardinals a happy and smart-looking bunch.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The 2018 Heisman winner plans to play for Oakland A's after the Sooners' season ends
The Dodgers will try to find the pieces to push them over the World Series finish line
Here are Saturday's hot stove rumblings from around MLB
Napoli finished his career with more than 260 home runs
Gennett will become a free agent next offseason
Molina will have the cleanup surgery in St. Louis