Considering Brian Dozier hit 42 home runs last year, it was pretty disappointing a month ago seeing him sitting at just 13 on the year. You’ve been able in the past to deal with his pedestrian batting average in the past because he’s a lock for nearly 20 steals and 25-30 home runs, and given what he did last year, the hope was that he’d stay in the 30s and maybe hit the 40s again. But a month ago, the power numbers were fine, but not necessarily what you were hoping for from Dozier after what he’s done in the past, but hey, at least he had 10 steals and was looking good to hit 20 again. Then this past month happened, and he’s been hitting the ball way better, slashing .284/.342/.618 with nine home runs and he continued that on Wednesday going 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB. The guy was awesome on Wednesday, and has been for the past month, but it begs the question, what changed? And is it sustainable? The answer to that question is in the batted ball stats. Through July 8th, Dozier had a hard hit rate of 33.3% and a HR/FB rate of 12.6%. Since then, his hard hit rate has jumped up to 40% and his HR/FB rate is 26.5%. Now, I don’t expect him to hit home runs at the rate he has been the past month, but I think his time languishing in mediocrity is over, and I think he’s back to being the Brian Dozier you wanted. There’s just one concern for me: that stolen base he had last night, that was his first one since June 21st. In fact, since June 21st, Dozier has only attempted two steals, including the steal he got last night, and that’s a bit concerning. I don’t think he’ll end up with 20 steals, I think it might be more like 15, but I do think he’ll still hit 30-35 home runs, and that’s still good news.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Welington Castillo (C, BAL) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. For whatever reason, the Orioles seem to hate Welington Castillo, as he’s been really in a timeshare with Caleb Joseph at the catcher position, which really bothers me considering Castillo has been playing well this year. In fact, over the past month he’s been straight-up raking, slashing .393/.407/.643. Now, he’s got an elevated BABIP and HR/FB rate that should come down, but he’s still available in around 72% of ESPN leagues. If you can deal with the inconsistent playing time, he’s useful.
Nelson Cruz (OF, SEA) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. I just wanted to give Cruz a shoutout for an awesome game, there’s not much to say about him other than the fact that he’s an awesome power hitter and I really wish the Orioles had found a way to keep him.
Hunter Pence (OF, SF) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Pence has been really off and on this year, which has translated to an overall pretty mediocre season. Over the past two weeks though, he’s been heating up, slashing .277/.306/.574. Now, that OBP is pitiful, but if you’re in a deep league, I think he could hit near .270 the rest of the way and end the year with around 15-20 home runs.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WSH) – 4-4, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI. What a ridiculous night for Zimmerman, which has been a bright spot in the middle of a cold month in which he’s been slashing .226/.287/.524. I have been preaching for a long time that a cold spell was coming. His BABIP was far too high, he wasn’t going to hit .300+ all year, and now that cold streak has come and his BABIP is evening out.
Jose Bautista (OF, TOR) – 1-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Age has finally caught up to Jose Bautista. This season has shown that last year wasn’t just a fluke bad year, this is where Bautista is heading. His hard hit rate has declined and his plate discipline stats have gotten worse than they’ve ever been, especially his whiff rate, all signs that age is finally catching up with 36-year-old. Sure, he’ll end the year with 25 or so home runs, but that average is awful, and the fact that he’s owned in over 87% of ESPN leagues still is, to me, strange.
Ian Kinsler (2B, DET) – 3-4, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI. Finally Kinsler is getting better. He’s slashing .277/.348/.446 over the past month and I think this is a good sign of things to come. All year he’s suffered from a poor BABIP and HR/FB rate that I think are finally positively regressing to the norm. He’s not who he used to be, but if you’re a Kinsler owner, better days are ahead.