OK, Brian Dozier and Miguel Cabrera are not at each other’s throats and in actuality are two of the more affable guys in the game of baseball. When you think of Miguel Cabrera, you think Triple Crown winner and the best hitter on the planet. When you think of Brian Dozier, you envision a solid hitter with some power, one of the top defensive second basemen in baseball, and a man with an All-Star head of hair. They don’t feel like equals, but really they are this season (in some regards).
A decade old statistic called WAR (Wins Above Replacement) takes everything a ballplayer contributes to a team and puts it into one number. Hitting, baserunning, and fielding are looked at, analyzed (yes, math is involved) and a number is created — this is the player’s WAR or how many wins does a player add or lose to a team. A useful concept to keep in mind is for every ten runs a players produces or saves equals a 1.0 WAR. The replacement part of WAR should be looked at as if the player was injured and a minor leaguer or bench player was put into the lineup, how much value/WAR would the team lose.
Back to Brian Dozier and Miguel Cabrera. Brian Dozier has a WAR of 2.5 this season. This leads the Twins by a healthy margin. As reference, Danny Santana’s hot start has contributed 1.5 WAR and is second on the Twins.
Anything above 5.0 WAR is an MVP caliber season. Joe Mauer’s fine 2009 season was worth 7.8 WAR (fourth best in team history) and even last season, in what many would classify a down year for Mauer, he was a 5.3 WAR player. The greatest WAR year for a Twins player was Rod Carew’s superlative 1977 season when he hit .388 and was a 9.7 WAR player… history lesson is over.
Don’t worry Miguel Cabrera, I haven’t forgotten about you. The mighty Cabrera has a 2.4 WAR this season. How could this be you may ask? That hulking machine of a hitter who laughs at opposing players and pitchers is worth slightly less than Brian Dozier? He certainly is. Brian Dozier’s great defense and baserunning helps him, while Miguel Cabrera’s granite glove and slower pace on the bases don’t. So while both players have great and nearly equal value to their teams, Dozier’s skills are spread out in more areas of the game, and not isolated to just hitting as they are with Cabrera.
By the way, Brian Dozier has two more home runs than Miguel Cabrera this season. Baseball is a weird sport.
Photos by: Keith Allison