Fantasy Baseball

The Regression Narrative: Brian Dozier

For the last few years, Brian Dozier has been an underrated fantasy commodity.  Mostly, this was due to poor batting average – prior to last year, his previous career high in batting average was .244.  As is usually the case, Dozier’s on-base skills were underrated in 5×5 formats and his four category production was largely overlooked because of either batting average weakness or less than ideal surroundings in Minnesota.

Last year, rather than regress, Dozier took a huge leap forward in the power department, popping 42 homers.  Along with those 42 homers, Dozier hit a career high .268, which was just about league average for fantasy purposes, swiped 18 bags, scored 104 runs and plated 98.  The counting production has long been an underrated component of Dozier’s game.  Only Dozier and Mike Trout have scored over 100 runs in each of the last three seasons. If Dozier is hitting at the top of the Twins lineup, there is little reason to think he won’t score 100 again with emerging young talents like Miguel Sano and Max Kepler standing ready to drive him when he does not drive himself in with a homer.

If Dozier hits more towards the middle, as he did for a spell last season, then what he lacks in runs, he will likely make up for in RBIs.  Despite batting first or second in 97 games, Dozier drove in 99 runs.  Put simply, Dozier is going to be a runs and RBI asset.

There are some that consider the 35.47 NFBC ADP a bit inflated, and as draft season approaches, I believe most leagues will see Dozier drafted closer to the 40-45 range.  Why?  Well, he’s still not a batting average asset, he plays for a bad team and most importantly, there is a huge regression narrative out there.  The experts are screaming from the mountaintops that he will not and cannot hit 40 homers again.

This echo chamber fails on two important levels: (1) it does not give Dozier credit for the mechanical adjustments that he made – standing further back in the box and maximizing his pull power and (2) it fails to properly account for what Dozier can do with some built-in power regression.

Admittedly, this is going to be unscientific, but let’s shave 25% of Dozier’s home runs off for the regression crowd, which brings him from 42 down to 31.  Now, let’s say that 2 of those 11 homers fall for doubles as opposed to outs.  Dozier is now a .253 hitter with 31 homers and 18 steals based on last year’s numbers.  At 29, despite being an ultra-efficient 18 of 20 on the basepaths last year, let’s say he regresses the speed a hair down to 15.  So he’s 31 HR, 15 SB with a .253 average and with the regression in homers, let’s put him at 95 Runs (which would be a three-year low) and 85 RBIs.

At that level, Dozier looks a lot like Rougned Odor from 2016, who was the 68th overall player. That’s still a very good asset, which was the ultimate point of this exercise.  You may lose a little value on Dozier, but there is very little likelihood that even with significant power regression, Dozier becomes a major loss.  We saw the upside last year, which was a top 20 bat.  The expert echo chamber wants to regress him back to the player he was in 2015, which was still a top 100 player.  There is a very high floor with Dozier – the value of which should not be discounted.

If Dozier slips beyond pick 40, as I suspect he will, I would not hesitate to plug in a player that will help four categories automatically.

My projection for Brian Dozier (Note: I am projecting Dozier as the Twins 3 hitter): 157 GP, 91 R, 32 HR, 93 RBI, 17 SB, .258 AVG.

 

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