A View From Studio 3: Dozier doing things right
Second baseman emerging as star as he leads team in homers, runs
Meet Brian Dozier. A fundamentally sound, humble and hard-working baseball player you'd like your kid to emulate. My eight-minute phone interview with him was as enjoyable as watching him play.
The Twins second baseman is a power hitter, elite defender and, oh, by the way, a musician. I'll get to the music piece of the story later. In the opinion of many, he should also be an All-Star when the Midsummer Classic takes place in his home park of Target Field.
"I really don't think about it," Dozier said. "If you're an All-Star you're an All-Star. If you're not, you're not. But at the same time, it would be a great achievement, especially being here at Target Field. I feel that we have a bunch of guys who deserve to play in the All Star game. If you're going to make one, this year would be the one to make in front of your home crowd and everything like that. We'll see what happens."
What's happened so far this season has been fantastic. The 27-year-old from Tupelo, Miss., leads the Twins in homers, walks, runs and stolen bases. He's a one-man wrecking crew who plays winning baseball for an organization that preaches doing things the right way.
A blue-collar guy from a blue-collar college program at Southern Mississippi, Dozier is the perfect fit in Minnesota. He says he was "blessed" to be drafted by the Twins in the eighth round of the 2009 Draft. The organization's expectation and his style are a perfect marriage. Many refer to that style as the "Twins Way."
"It all boils down to doing things the right way in all aspects of the game on and off the field," Dozier said. "Little things like taking off and running every single ball out. Getting guys over every single time 100 percent of the time, that kind of thing helps win ballgames."
So it comes as no surprise that as a youngster Dozier's favorite player was Derek Jeter. It wasn't until he mentioned David Eckstein, Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist and Dustin Pedroia as other players he looks up to that I realized the full magnitude of his grit.
So far in 2014, thanks in large part to Dozier's work ethic and talents, the Twins have won more ballgames than many expected. They enter the final weekend in May just three games under .500 and only 3 1/2 games back in a wide-open Wild Card race.
Dozier points to improved pitching as a major reason for improved results in 2014. But he also makes it clear that the vibe inside the clubhouse has changed dramatically from '13. Its "night and day from last year," when the Twins came to the yard trying not to lose. That approach didn't work too well because they lost 96 games. This year's club comes to the park knowing it has a chance to win.
"The presence in the clubhouse is a lot better. Bringing in some older guys like [Jason] Kubel and [Kurt] Suzuki who have actually won up here. That means a lot. "
A third of the way through this season, The Twins are garnering national attention and striking a chord with the Minnesota faithful. That's something Dozier can relate to. When he's not covered in dirt from head to toe, he's strumming his banjo, his guitar or tickling the keys on a piano. Back in college after he finished his degree, Dozier was the lead guitarist in a band named Silky Smooth. They'd play college towns in Mississippi, making music and having a grand time.
"I don't know how Silky Smooth we were but it was a lot of fun," Dozier said.
So is watching Dozier grow into a rising star and hopefully an All-Star this summer at Target Field.