The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

September 30, 2013

Thoma column: It might be time for Gardy to go

(Continued)

Now, even the most devoted of platooning adherents would advise against shoehorning the likes of Oswaldo Arcia or Aaron Hicks into such a role. They’re young with star potential. But Trevor Plouffe has established a track record of crushing lefties while struggling against righties, and he’s not a pup anymore. The chances of Gardenhire converting Plouffe to a platoon role are minimal.

Then there’s Brian Dozier. Dozier has spent much of the season hitting in one of the first three spots in the lineup. I’m NOT criticizing Gardenhire for that; the man had to put somebody in those slots, and he can only put Mauer in one of them (and he couldn’t put Mauer in any of them in September).

But the notion that Dozier is the “ideal No. 2 hitter,” as touted by certain broadcasters, is just silly. Set aside the sabermetric theory that the second spot is too valuable to use on small ball; even under the traditionalist view, Dozier doesn’t fit.

The traditional No. 2 hitter is a contact hitter, adept at the hit-and-run and at bunting. Dozier is a pull hitter with a high strikeout rate (and a low batting average). His 2013 breakout has been based on extra base hits, not on slapping singles.

In a good lineup, Dozier hits seventh or eighth. The 2013 Twins didn’t have that luxury. But as Arcia and Josmil Pinto develop, and as the likes of Bryon Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario arrive to join Mauer in the lineup, it will behoove the Twins to have a manager who recognizes that just because Dozier plays middle infield doesn’t mean he should hit second.

Edward Thoma (344-6377; ethoma@mankatofreepress.com) maintains his Baseball Outsider blog at fpbaseballoutsider.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @bboutsider.

 

 

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