I’ve been a believer in Brian Dozier for quite some time now. Since his breakout around the midway point of last season, Dozier has consistently been one of the most valuable second basemen in fantasy. This year, things only got better, as Dozier started taking more walks and showing much-increased aggressiveness on the basepaths. For a full calendar year, Dozier was an elite fantasy option and five-category contributor, showing no signs of slowing down.
Then July arrived and Dozier came crashing down to earth, with a slash of just .213/.232/.404. The power has still been there, but little else has. There are lots of things to be worried about regarding his performance in July, but none moreso than the figures below:
- April – 19 BB, 26 K
- May – 13 BB, 18 K
- June – 19 BB, 21 K
- July – 1 BB, 21 K
Whoa. What happened here? Furthermore, why is no one talking about it? Check out a Google News search for Dozier; it’s all about the Home Run Derby, him winning the Twins Heart and Hustle award (AKA the “grittiest player in baseball” award), etc. Not a thing about a month-long slump that has seen his plate discipline fly out the window. Well, let’s fix that, shall we?
On the surface, it doesn’t appear that there’s anything drastically different. His batted-ball profile this month is essentially in line with the rest of the season. Combine that knowledge with the fact that he suffered through a .225 BABIP in July, and it certainly seems like he got at least a bit unlucky. Still, what’s going on with that plate discipline?
Last month, Dozier saw 4.50 pitches per plate appearance. However, in July, that figure dropped all the way down to 3.96 pitches per PA. Now it seems like we’re onto something. He has quite clearly been considerably more aggressive this month, and that hasn’t played to his advantage.
Looking further into his pitch data, Dozier has always been a guy that feasts on fastballs. His career .269 AVG and .206 isolated power on fastballs dwarf his numbers against breaking (.198 AVG, .069 ISO) or offspeed (.179 AVG, .098 ISO) pitches.
Here’s where Dozier’s slump starts to come into focus. Keep in mind that there’s still a few games left this month, so these data points will crawl upwards ever so slightly, but it’s still impossible to ignore something like this:
Simple, right? A guy who profiles mainly as a fastball hitter has seen 100+ fewer fastballs this month than last (this graph is also a great visual for understanding just how many fewer pitches Dozier has seen in July). Pair that with the fact that he’s seeing a higher percentage of offspeed pitches this month (13.21%) than in any other month in his three-year major-league career and it makes even more sense.
Here’s where it gets really crazy, though. In a month in which he has seen more offspeed pitches than ever before, Dozier has swung at 49% of them — for comparison, his overall swing percentage for the season is 38.8% — and he’s doing so in ridiculously wild fashion:
To recap, Dozier is seeing more offspeed pitches than ever before, he’s swinging at lots of them, and it doesn’t really matter if they’re anywhere near the zone. A recipe for success this is not. Still, to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure how this should change my view of Dozier going forward.
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.
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.