In July, I wrote a column detailing my concerns about Brian Dozier. Dozier came into July with 51 walks compared to 65 strikeouts, and that plate discipline was a big part of his move into the top tier of fantasy second-base options. By the time I wrote him up on July 28, the 27-year-old had amassed 21 strikeouts, with just one measly walk, since the calendar turned over to July.
Without regurgitating my entire piece from July, I concluded that Dozier was being far more aggressive at the plate, as the 4.50 pitches he saw per plate appearance in June had dropped to less than four pitches per PA. Additionally, pitchers were throwing Dozier fewer fastballs, and he was swinging at offspeed stuff with nearly zero strike-zone discrimination.
The question, of course, was whether Dozier could turn it around. At the time, I said:
We’re only looking at one month here, and it was preceded by a full calendar year of well-above average production. However, pitchers are attacking him in a significantly different fashion than they ever have before, and Dozier hasn’t responded well, to put it very kindly. In the end, I’m trying my best not to overreact to a one-month sample, but Dozier clearly needs to make a serious adjustment if pitchers continue to avoid throwing him fastballs.
And adjust he did. In the month of August, he drew an incredible 25 walks — a whopping 19.0% BB-rate — and struck out just 18 times. His pitches-per-PA mark was back up to 4.27. He only hit one home run in August, but his 25 runs in just 29 games helped place him back in the top tier of fantasy second basemen. Dozier’s on-base success dipped a bit again in September, but with his steady across-the-board production, he was still a top-10 2B for the month.
So, let’s find out what Dozier did to bounce back from his July swoon. What I really want to discover is whether he adjusted to the pitchers’ new tendencies, or whether the pitchers themselves went back to their prior plan of attack against Dozier. The answer is a bit of a compromise between the two.
On the following graph, it’s easy to see that pitchers didn’t really stick with the theme of throwing Dozier fewer fastballs, which is a bit odd on the surface, seeing as it worked so well in July:
Full-month samples are still pretty small, but when a player spends an entire month playing in a completely different fashion than he’s ever played, it’s always worth digging into. Even including his wacky July, Dozier finished the season as the No. 4 fantasy second baseman, earning nearly $25 and trailing just Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler and Dee Gordon.
That’s pretty much the player he’s been ever since he broke out in June 2013. I see no reason to doubt his ability to hold down a top-five 2B slot for 2015, especially since he showed the ability to adjust to adaptations in pitchers’ game plans this year.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.