The Minnesota Twins have had a very successful season thus far. Finishing their first series after the All-Star Break, dropping two of three to the Oakland A’s. Before the series, they had the second best record in the American League. Despite losing two games, they still have a 50-42 record and sit 6 games back of the Kansas City Royals.
When I look back on the first half, there are many things I see as contributing to the success of the team this season. They include things like improved pitching from the starting rotation to improved performances by players at the plate. Even the veteran presence of Torii Hunter has contributed significantly to the Twins success, as well as adding first year Manager Paul Molitor.
But, if I had to single out one player in particular who has contributed to the team’s successful season so far, I would have to say it is Brian Dozier. Halfway through the season, he is hitting .256, has a solid on-base percentage of .328 and has an outstanding slugging percentage of .513. He has 48 extra-base hits including 19 home runs with 50 RBIs and 67 runs scored.
If these stats don’t convince you of how well Dozier has done this season, how about let’s take a look at what transpired on the field the week before the break.
The Twins went 6-1 against two solid teams at Target Field. During that week, Dozier hit not one, but two walk off home runs. Not only that, but he hit a two-run go ahead home run that week Wednesday to put the Twins up 2-1 over the Baltimore Orioles in the sixth inning. The Twins would go on to win that game 5-3.
Let’s go back to the walk off home runs. The first walk off occurred in extra innings in the opening game of a three-game series against the Orioles a week ago Monday. It was tied at two heading to the bottom of the tenth inning. With one out, Danny Santana singled. Next, Dozier hit his two-run walk off home run to left field off Tommy Hunter, giving the Twins a victory, 4-2. Most importantly, Dozier’s first walk off home run of the week set the stage for the Twins to sweep the Orioles at home including the previously mentioned 5-3 victory.
The most dramatic of Dozier’s walk off home runs that week occurred on Friday night. The Twins were down 6-1 to the Detroit Tigers heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. When Dozier came up to bat with one out, the Twins had already scored four runs with a key hit being a single by Santana that scored two of them. Facing Detroit’s closer Joakim Soria, Dozier hit a three-run home run, which gave the Twins an 8-6 victory. After a few seconds of crowd noise, Twins radio voice, Cory Provus, had this to say which sums up the sentiment of fans in Twins Territory.
“Can you believe this rally? Can you believe that guy will not be in Cincinnati? He’s an all-star in Twins Territory!” Provus said.
Earlier that day, it was announced that Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas had beaten out Dozier as the winner of the fan vote to fill the final roster spot on the American League All-Star team. Even a final push via twitter wasn’t enough to move Dozier up from second place. Not only that, but the Twins had one of the biggest comebacks in their franchise history, scoring seven runs in the ninth to beat the Tigers. Who knows if the rally had occurred the night before if that would have been enough to send Dozier to the All-Star game in Cincinnati via the fan vote?
But, Dozier would go to Cincinnati as an injury replacement for Toronto’s Jose Bautista. He would hit a home run in the All-Star Game, putting an exclamation mark on the American League’s 6-3 victory.
It is without a doubt that Dozier is one of the key players for the Twins this season. Yet, the baseball fan base with the exception of Twins territory hasn’t taken notice of him judging by the All-Star voting results. In my mind and in the minds of Twins fans, Brian Dozier is the MVP of the Twins this season.
If the Twins continue to have a successful season, Dozier should be the winner of this Year’s MVP Award in the American League. He has certainly been a key factor for the Twins success. If the Twins are to continue having a successful season, Dozier would need to keep up his current production.
Photos courtesy of: Keith Allison