A much reported on and much desired trade candidate this year seems to be the Twins Second Baseman, Brian Dozier. Dozier, drafted in the 8th round of the 2009 draft by the Twins, put up a career year in 2016 and has had relatively stable production since he began receiving full time at-bats in 2013. Dozier posted a triple slash of .268/.340/.546 (.886 OPS) during his career year, mashing 42 home runs to go along with 35 doubles and will be playing in his age-30 season in 2017.
With a move to a pitcher’s park like Dodger Stadium, would a player like Dozier’s production translate well in a stadium that more often favors pitchers and what would a package for him look like?
Playing in a more offensively charged environment like the Twins’ Target Field can definitely have its advantages. The park has generally favored offense since it opened in 2010, especially right handed hitters like Dozier. The park has a slightly deeper wall on the left pole compared to Dodger Stadium (339’ compared to 330’), but a shallower porch in dead left (377’ compared to 385’). Target Field also tends to be a little tough on lefties and righties who use the entire field, with a 23’ wall from Right Center to the Right Field foul pole.
A non-existent factor in Minnesota, the ever-present and notorious nightly marine layer in Los Angeles helps suppress offense, notably turning hard hit fly balls in routine outs on a regular basis. In addition to a more difficult home ball park, Dozier would trade the hitter friendly Al Central parks, where nearly every park favors the hitter, for the rough and tumble NL West parks. The NL west boasts the two strongest offensive parks by park factor (Coors & Chase) and also three of the 3 of the stingiest pitcher parks in baseball (Petco, AT&T and Blue Heaven). This could make life a little trickier for Dozier.
Dozier is the definition of a deal pull hitter, with over 50% of his balls in play going to the left side of the diamond. That definitely worked for him during last season in Minnesota, but it may make his life a little harder if he moved to Dodger Stadium. The spray chart to the right (courtesy of Baseball Savant) shows how many of Dozier’s home runs would have cleared the wall in Dodger Stadium. Dozier would have lost 6 home runs right off the top, assuming every home run he hit were hit at home. Naturally, this isn’t the case and a bit of a flawed argument but it’s a decent comparison tool. His dead pull to left may benefit from the short, pinched in corners and lower wall of Dodger Stadium but he’ll suffer a bit when hitting to dead left and left center.
In addition to being a dead pull hitter, Dozier also does a good job of minimizing soft contact in lieu of medium and hard contact. However, he doesn’t hit a lot of line drives, instead being a fly ball hitter that may not fare as well in Dodger Stadium’s fly ball suppressing environment. However, Dozier likes to feast on left handed pitching, which would go a long way toward solving the Dodgers 2016 Achilles heel.
His 42 home run power spike, while impressive, looks like a bit of an anomaly on paper, as his next highest total came the year prior when he smacked 28 home runs. There likely isn’t a Dodger Fan alive that wouldn’t prefer 28 home runs from second base, compared to the productivity or lack thereof the team received from second in 2016. However, while the large 42 number looks more like an outlier in terms of his overall body of work, Dozier has been a doubles machine since he began receiving full time at bats. His doubles total over the last 4 years looks like this: 33, 33, 39 and 35. It’s relatively safe to say that may be an accurate representation of what his doubles may look like for the foreseeable future. His 102-point jump in slugging percentage along with his 5% increase in HR/FB% (Home Run to Fly Ball Percent, or the percentage of fly balls that leave the park), however, may not be sustainable.
With all this talk about Dozier’s bat, it would be an injustice if his defense weren’t also brought into the equation. Over his career, Dozier grades out as league-average or slightly below in regard to his overall body of work, with below average range and an arm that rates out about league average as well. He does well on routine plays, but his lack of range presents a challenge when he gets into plays that are more difficult. To add another layer to his game, he’s also capable of swiping a base, as he’s averaged about 17 per year over his career.
Potential Trade Package
The Twins are under no pressure to trade Dozier, so this significantly reduces the Dodgers leverage. He’s under a team friendly contract for the next two years, and he could be a player the Twins might consider holding on to until July when he may have reinforced his season.
With all this taken into consideration, a realistic trade likely starts with Jose De Leon. The Twins would likely pursue a player to replace Dozier at second, which may be where Calhoun is added to the package. Calhoun’s bat looks like it could play in the Majors, but many question whether he can stick at second and he may interest an AL team because of his ability to DH.
A 3rd player, likely a pitcher as close to MLB ready as possible, could round it out and the Twins have expressed interest in Brock Stewart. If Calhoun seems too rich or the Twins simply feel they have the farm system to recover from Dozier’s loss, the Dodgers could choose to include one of their young, major league outfielders in Andrew Toles or Trayce Thompson.
A package with three of these players likely piques the Twins interest, and it’s hard to argue it isn’t a good trade from both the Dodgers and Twins perspective. The Dodgers would get an immediate production improvement from second base, capable of lengthening the lineup against righties and strengthening it against lefties while dealing from a place of depth (minor league pitching talent). The Twins would get talent that is ready to contribute to their team immediately, while filling multiple holes in their rotation.
The cost may be high, but the Dodgers will have to give up good talent in order to acquire good talent, and a move like this may move the Dodgers to the class of the National League.