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Remembering Leo Cardenas, The Superstitious One

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Brian Dozier: New Member, Mt. Rushmore of Twins Sluggers

The Minnesota Twins now have a new member in their historical 40 Home Run club in Brian Dozier. Talk about exclusive, that is now a party of TWO. The Top 4 players on the All-Time franchise, single-season records plateau now features Harmon Killebrew (49 twice in 1964 and '69), BD (40 and counting in 2016), Josh Willingham (35 in 2012), and Bob Allison (also 35 in 1963).

A fantasy which would have gotten you ridicule in 2012 -
a sort of "which one does not belong"-type of thing!
 As a not-so-small side note, this episode truly underscores the enduring magnificence of Killebrew, who topped the 40 barrier in a pitching-dominated era -  not once, not twice, but seven times in his career (see "Twins Top 20 Chart" below), and almost scored an eighth (39 in 1966). It's noteworthy for a player to reach that plateau now in the post-steroid era, but for someone to have averaged that for 12 years running is beyond belief (wait for stat box to pop up - a neat one to behold!).

"Todd Walker this,
Todd Walker that,
bula, bula, bula!"
In a season punctuated by the crushing disappointment of a losing ballclub, Brian Dozier has been a beacon of interest and a pleasant surprise for Twins fans after a disappointing start to his year. It's hard to imagine a more unlikely addition to the team Home Run Mt. Rushmore. He was the 21st pick in the 8th Round by Minnesota in the 2009 June Amateur Draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi, six picks after Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona. In fact, if you were a Twins fan in 1996, and Marty McFly just showed up on your doorstep proclaiming, "You know, that Todd Walker rookie of yours at second base? He's going to be producing Harmon Killebrew-like homer and slugging totals at some point in the future," it would have been a plausible claim, given the Minor League buzz he'd generated. And Brian Dozier? Um, no, not so much. Life is strange that way...

He had hit 16 homers in 4 Minor League seasons, and had a memorably putrid rookie season in 2012, with essentially one highlight - and that not necessarily of grandiose proportions. All signs pointed to a player destined to be a serviceable utility player or middle infielder. He had been named the team's Minor League Player of The Year in 2011, but came crashing down to Earth later in that rookie year with a demotion to AAA Rochester. But his run production and power has steadily progressed since 2012, and his low-ish batting average, power and good fielding comps him in team history with Tim Tuefel. But he has moved far beyond that, becoming on par with the best second basemen in baseball. Further, he has now surpassed Alfonso Soriano's 39 home runs as a second baseman, set in 2002.

Perhaps hoping to avoid the uncertainties of market salary escalation and arbitration, the Twins signed him to a 4 year, $20 million contract in March, 2015, with annual payouts of $2 M, $3 M, $6 M and $9 M in 2018. In essence, his production has made him an incredible bargain; and with each homer and stellar fielding play from now until the season's end in 2016, talk of him being trade fodder for starting pitching prospects seems more ridiculous by the day.



ALL TIME TWINS TOP 20 SINGLE-SEASON HOME RUN LEADERS

Rk Player HR Year Age G PA AB RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
1 Harmon Killebrew 49 1969 33 162 709 555 140 145 84 .427 .584 1.011
2 Harmon Killebrew 49 1964 28 158 682 577 111 93 135 .377 .548 .924
3 Harmon Killebrew 48 1962 26 155 666 552 126 106 142 .366 .545 .912
4 Harmon Killebrew 46 1961 25 150 656 541 122 107 109 .405 .606 1.012
5 Harmon Killebrew 45 1963 27 142 596 515 96 72 105 .349 .555 .904
6 Harmon Killebrew 44 1967 31 163 689 547 113 131 111 .408 .558 .965
7 Harmon Killebrew 41 1970 34 157 665 527 113 128 84 .411 .546 .957
8 Brian Dozier 41 2016 29 140 624 553 94 56 117 .352 .577 .929
9 Harmon Killebrew 39 1966 30 162 677 569 110 103 98 .391 .538 .929
10 Josh Willingham 35 2012 33 145 615 519 110 76 141 .366 .524 .890
11 Bob Allison 35 1963 28 148 626 527 91 90 109 .378 .533 .911
12 Justin Morneau 34 2006 25 157 661 592 130 53 93 .375 .559 .934
13 Kent Hrbek 34 1987 27 143 566 477 90 84 60 .389 .545 .934
14 Gary Gaetti 34 1986 27 157 661 596 108 52 108 .347 .518 .865
15 Jimmie Hall 33 1963 25 156 571 497 80 63 101 .342 .521 .863
16 Michael Cuddyer 32 2009 30 153 650 588 94 54 118 .342 .520 .862
17 Tom Brunansky 32 1987 26 155 614 532 85 74 104 .352 .489 .841
18 Tom Brunansky 32 1984 23 155 628 567 85 57 94 .320 .460 .780
19 Bob Allison 32 1964 29 149 594 492 86 92 99 .404 .553 .957
20 Tony Oliva 32 1964 25 161 719 672 94 34 68 .359 .557 .916
Generated 9/14/2016.

And, oh, by the way...



TWINS 3-HR GAMES - REVISED!!

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI SO BOP
1 Brian Dozier 2016-09-05 MIN KCR L 5-11 5 5 3 3 3 4 2 1
2 Max Kepler 2016-08-01 MIN CLE W 12-5 6 6 3 4 3 6 0 3
3 Justin Morneau 2007-07-06 (2) MIN CHW W 12-0 5 5 3 3 3 6 0 5
4 Tony Oliva 1973-07-03 MIN KCR L 6-7 5 5 3 3 3 3 0 3
5 Harmon Killebrew 1963-09-21 (1) MIN BOS W 13-4 5 5 3 3 3 5 1 4
6 Bob Allison 1963-05-17 MIN CLE W 11-4 5 5 3 3 3 6 1 4

"David Price AND Benitendi for
Dozier? What are we waiting for?"
Credit needs to be given to Twins management for sticking by Dozier during his prolonged slumps that marred the second half of 2015 and the beginning of the 2016 season.  And, of course, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, and Dozier himself should be given props for making changes to his approach at the plate that resulted in him being more productive and stronger in the second half. As per trades, no one on the Twins 40 man roster or minor league stable should be off limits - with a notable exception of a couple players or three - if the "offer that can't be refused" comes across the wires for the new GM and President of Baseball Ops.

But it had better be nigh unto perfect to part with a building block player like Brian D.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

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