Amidst Brian Dozier's 18 home runs last season, I was convinced that it was a mirage. After all, those 18 home runs were the most he'd ever hit in any full season, regardless of being in the majors or the minors. While power is often the last tool to develop, it's rare for a player to finally learn how to hit home runs in the major leagues. The Jose Bautistas of baseball are the exception, not the rule.
Instead, Dozier has already hit 8 home runs this season. Even with the safe assumption that he cools off over the rest of the season, he just needs three home runs per month to end the season with 20, a number I'm sure prospect mavens would have never fathomed as recently as a couple years ago. Keep in mind also, the Twins didn't have a 20-home run hitter last season.
When he was first called up, Dozier was a shortstop. However, like Trevor Plouffe and Tsuyoshi Nishioka before him, he showed that he couldn't handle the position. Last season, he was shifted to second base, showing that he was trending in the wrong direction on the defensive spectrum.
Instead, Dozier has settled in quite well at second base, making it hard to believe that he struggled at shortstop just two years ago. His UZR was roughly average last year, and while it takes multiple years to make a good judgment on a player's defensive rating, it's clear simply from watching him that his range is quite good at the position.
In 2012, Dozier walked in only 4.7% of his plate appearances, a disappointing rate considering he always drew a fair number of walks in the minor leagues. It caused me to think of Dozier as another David Eckstein in the sense that he had solid walk totals up until becoming a major leaguer, when pitchers were no longer afraid and would throw him strikes.
Instead, he has nearly quadrupled his walk rate from that short 2012 season, which is now up to an elite 15.9% after Tuesday's game. He was a curious choice as a leadoff hitter in the past and should have been moved down in the order, but now his OBP is quite good for a player that currently isn't even hitting .250.
I didn't think Brian Dozier would last more than a couple years as a major leaguer in the Twins organization, and the Twins would be forced to turn to Eddie Rosario or someone else as their second baseman of the future. Instead, Dozier is currently third in the major leagues in fWAR at 1.9. The two names above him are lofty company: Troy Tulowitzki and Mike Trout.
Instead of being certain I had Brian Dozier figured out, I was wrong.