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Brian Dozier: Less of a Thief

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As Brian Dozier's numbers at the plate continue to amaze, he has nearly ceased to steal bases this season.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple times per week, I find myself perusing the individual stats for the Twins. In spite of their poor overall team standing in the offensive and pitching categories, it's still fun to see the leaders in the different facets of the game. Namely, I always have fun looking at Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe atop the offensive side while the pitching has been dominated by Trevor May.

Plouffe had ranked much better earlier in the season, but has slipped over the past few weeks. In Dozier's case though, he has not showed any signs of slowing down. As we get into the summer and can no longer use "it's early" as an excuse for outlier performances, we see that the BullDozier has been unbelievably hot. How many times have we seen him lead off the game with a double or a home run? Insert multiple flame emojis here, that's how hot he's been.

Now, we're not going to argue over his standing in the All-Star vote, that's something that will receive our complaints another day. Instead, while looking at Dozier's stat line for the season, one number in particular jumped out at me: 4, also known as the number of steals he's had all season.

When Dozier debuted in 2012, he didn't offer much at the plate or in the field. But, he did wreak some havoc on the basepaths, stealing 9 bases in 11 attempts (83%). He kept swiping bases the following year, though admittedly he wasn't as economical as he finished with 14 steals in 21 attempts (67%). Last year he managed to be successful right around the rough break-even point for stolen bases at 75% as he joined the 20/20 club, taking 21 bases in 28 tries.

This year has been a completely different story, though. With his stolen base yesterday, that brought Dozier up to the aforementioned four steals in only six attempts. If we prorated that over the whole season, he'd finish with about 10 steals in 15 tries, significantly less than what he accomplished the prior three seasons. (2012 would have seen 17 swipes in 21 attempts over 162 games.)

So, what gives? Well, I have some theories, mainly focusing on Dozier's offensive output. There is no doubt that he is the best offensive sparkplug on the Twins right now, and it would massively hurt the team if he were to go down with an injury. The simplest way to minimize the risk of injury is to keep Dozier stuck at first base so there isn't the risk of him pulling a hammy, jamming his fingers diving headfirst into the base, or whatnot. We've seen similar adjustments made by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, players that once stole 49 and 18 bases respectively earlier in their careers, only to be stuck at 8 and 3 this year.

Now, Dozier isn't as great of a player as those two, but there is another factor that I feel has contributed to his lack of basestealing and once again it deals with his offense. Simply put, Dozier hasn't been on first base enough. Take a look at how often he's reached base versus how many times he's been on first base. Now, I'll admit that this is not a perfect number as it doesn't count times he's reached on errors or fielder's choices, but it'll still paint us a rough picture. The "times reached base" will simply add Dozier's hits, walks, and hit by pitches. The "times reached 1B" will be the same number but without any extra base hits. The "% reached 1B" is simply the division of those two numbers. "SB" and "SBA" are stolen bases and stolen base attempts.

Year Times Reached 1B Times Reached Base % Reached 1B SB SBA
2012 73 91 80% 9 11
2013 138 193 72% 14 21
2014 186 243 77% 21 28
2015 58 95 61% 4 6

Remember that I had prorated his 2012 stolen base numbers over 162 games to 17/21 and 2015 currently would be 10/15. Basically it appears as though Dozier hasn't attempted as many steals this season simply on the basis that he hasn't had as many opportunities. Now, this completely ignores when there was a baserunner in front of Dozier, but I think these numbers do deserve some of the blame.

By the way, you probably picked up that the % reached 1B numbers decreased significantly as another important offensive stat has skyrocketed for Dozier.

Year ISO
2012 .098
2013 .170
2014 .174
2015 .274

ISO, or isolated power, is slugging percentage minus batting average. The average ISO the past few years has ranged from .135 to .150.

As I prefaced at the beginning, Dozier is driving the ball consistently. You can't steal second base when you've doubled or jogged past the bag after your latest dinger. So, although Brian Dozier hasn't been utilizing his speed on the basepaths as much as we've seen in the past few years, I'm not really that concerned about it. Perhaps we'll see him swipe more bases as his power numbers drop. But until then, we shouldn't be worried about him not taking second base as often as we'd like because he's already taken it.

Now about his standing in the All-Star race...