The Igniter vs. Big Papi

(Originally posted on

Awhile ago there was a debate surrounding two prominent names near and dear to every heart that beats within Twins Territory that was trying to work out which is/was the better player. A comparison of skill not only with the bat and glove but also the passion in which they play(ed) and their leadership qualities. I’m talking about Mark Rosen’s son vs. The Cannonball. Kid Sideburns vs. Pucky Smiles. Mauer vs. Puckett.

But I ask you fellow fans, are we asking the right questions? Should we be comparing two of our most beloved players when doing so is like asking which Twins logo you prefer, the "M" of the "TC"? You like them both, just for different reasons. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand" and I must say I agree.

Instead of comparing two folklore heroes let us instead parallel two southern boys, albeit one from a little more south than the other. Not only are they well known to Twins fans but also both are still active players giving this evaluation an additional dimension the Joe/Kirby discussion had lacked. I propose this showdown to you: an up-and-comer squaring off against a well-established slugger. The Curly Fro vs. The Golden Flow. The Igniter vs. Big Papi. Dozier vs. Ortiz.

The Competitors:

Name: Brian Dozier David Ortiz
Age: 27 38
Hometown: Tupelo, MS Santo Domingo, DR
Height: 5’ 11" 6’ 4"
Weight: 190 lbs. (86 kg) 250 lbs. (113 kg)
Position: Second Base Designated Hitter
Experience: 2 years 17 years
Debut: 5/7/2012 9/2/1997

"Primary Stats"

Dozier 167 40 43 4 0 11 25 30 38
Ortiz 154 22 46 8 0 11 25 24 29

"Secondary Stats"

Dozier 12 .257 .374 .479 .853 1.8
Ortiz 0 .299 .394 .565 .959 1.5

"Expanded/SABR Stats"

Dozier 4.18 15 3 32.9 .455 15.2 14.8% 0.79
Ortiz 3.92 19 0 33.8 .422 14.0 13.3% 0.83

"Defense" (Dozier Only)

42 381 209 77 129 3 26 .986 4.86 0.0


This is where I initially got the idea for this expose that you are perusing. It all started out innocently enough as a short story about how I think Brian Dozier has a shot at an All-Star nod this year, yet the deeper I dove into the numbers the more times I saw the names "Dozier" and "Ortiz" in close proximity to one another. Two pages of notes later I decided to split the numbers into three "rounds" complete with pretty spreadsheets. Before we begin, if you’d like to get more into the mood, I suggest cueing up "Eye of the Tiger"for an enhanced experience.

Round One: "Primary Stats"

See what I mean? By examining only these eight stats one might think that our two fighters ballplayers are nearly identical at the plate, and the numbers point in that direction.

Dozier (AB, R, BB, SB) and Ortiz (H, 2B, SO) notch three points but they also split three categories (triples, home runs, runs batted in) to tie the first round at five. Some stats are expected such as Dozier’s lead in runs (tops in the MLB) and Ortiz’s lead in hits (although surprisingly close) but others are rather impressive. For example, Dozier has more walks even though he hasn’t been intentionally walked at all this season while Ortiz has been given nine free passes (none via the Twins). Another is the tie in HR and RBI since Dozier blushes at the notion of being thought of as a power hitter while Ortiz is known for nothing but. At the end of the first round it’s all tied up.

Round Two: "Secondary Stats"

As you might have expected this is where Ortiz starts to make some noise for himself on the spreadsheet. Already an established (and feared) batter he takes four out of six in this round even though I slipped stolen bases in there to make a case for Dozier (he’s tied with Ben Revere for 6th in the league) however unfair that may be for Ortiz. While BD only gets two points for the round, it should be noted that his OBP is only twenty points behind Papi while batting more than forty points worse. In fact, the numbers Dozier has put up in OBP, SLG and OBP are good for the second best in the MLB for second basemen behind only Chase Utley and his 1.8 WAR ties him for 15th in the entire MLB with Carlos Gomez and places him twenty spots ahead of Papi in that grouping. Regardless, at the end of the second round now Ortiz leads the overall point total 9-7.

Round Three: "Expanded/SABR Stats"

Once again we see a dead heat between the two. Dozier appears to be slightly more patient at the plate posting better figures in P/PA and BB/K while Ortiz continue to flex his muscle both figuratively and literally by notching more XBH, RC and fewer at bats between home runs. Dozier’s impressive SecA is not only higher than Ortiz’s but every other player in the MLB aside from the human videogame that is Troy Tulowitzki (.586), Jose Bautista (.494), and Giancarlo Stanton (.465). Pretty good company if you ask me. The end of the third round still has David Ortiz in the lead by a score of 13-11.


I am aware that this part of the comparison may not be very fair to David Ortiz since he doesn’t exactly play in the field much these days but defense is an important part of the game and Dozier’s incredible play this season needs to recognized. Here’s a shot of his numbers so far:

Round Four [Part One]: Brian Dozier

To shed some light to the assessment of the above stats, consider this: he is second in the MLB in games played, assists, total chances and third in full innings played; in the AL he is third in both range factor and double plays turned. Heck, he’s had multiple web gem moments at the quarter-point of the season and was even featured in an ESPN Sports Science segment. He credits his composure on the field amidst all the action that comes his way to Tom Kelly for teaching him to "keep calm" out there. For a small contrast between Dozier and Ortiz on the field, Brian’s 1.6 DWAR this season is better than any that Ortiz has ever posted by more than a run and a half. Always the humble kid from Mississippi, he never fails to credit his teammates with his success while sporting an infectious smile. Need a refresher of this defensive prowess? I got one right here.

Round Four [Part Two]: David Ortiz

Never known for flashing this leather, Ortiz wasn’t a bad first basement just… not exciting nor has he ever posted a positive DWAR. Nor was he really ever at first base. In his previous sixteen seasons Ortiz started 250 games at 1B whereas Dozier has started 183 in three seasons. Like I said, not exactly a fair fight. I even tried to look up "David Ortiz defensive highlights" and got nothing except a clip of him from game three of the 2013 World Series.

Total Points: Brian Dozier – 3, David Ortiz – 0 (DNQ)

Round Five: "Passion/Leadership"

We’ve all heard Ortiz’s rousing speech to the city of Boston proclaiming it as "their f-king city" and know that his veteran presence in the dugout has helped bring the Red Sox together time and time again through player-only clubhouse meetings and (my own theory) the fact that no one would want to make a man of that size and stature angry which makes his leadership qualities undeniable. Papi has always been know as a player who wears his heart on his sleeve and has no problem doing what needs to be done in order to notch a "W" up on the board thanks to a seemingly inextinguishable fire to win raging inside his rotund midsection.

While his hot start this season has been one for the ages in Twins Territory, Dozier just isn’t as well established in the clubhouse to garner as much respect although I doubt if he called a meeting he would be the only one in attendance. If you’ve seen him play you know he has no problem laying everything on the line to make a play at second base that has you wondering "How did he do that?" followed by "Thank [insert preferred religious figure here] he’s on our team." I’m sure with time Dozier will have no issue becoming an elder statesman in the future within Twins locker room but that comes with experience and tenure with the club. I’m not saying he’ll be a Puckett or Hunter, although he seems to show the same amount of passion for the game, but if his skills continue to flourish at the rate they are right now we could have a leader similar to the one we thought we’d get with Joe Mauer.

Total Points: Brian Dozier – 1, David Ortiz – 2

Final Scorecard: Brian Dozier – 15, David Ortiz – 15


As it sits, the Twins are getting this kind of production out of a younger player for $540,000 while the Red Sox pay $15 million for slightly better hitting and no defense. We’re only at the quarter point of the season so we’ve yet to see if any of the aforementioned numbers are sustainable but given the information you have just read (unless you skipped to the bottom to see who won in which case welcome back): Who would you rather have?

*All stats current as of 5/19/14

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