Of the Washington Nationals free agent signings, Brian Dozier is perhaps generating the least amount of buzz. Why isn’t he being talked about more?
Well, maybe not Dozier himself. However, baseball fans, in general, are forgetting just how good he is.
The Nationals signed Dozier to a one year, $9 million deal early this calendar year to replace a vacancy caused by Daniel Murphy’s trade at the deadline last season.
Dozier, by all accounts, had a down year in 2018. with the Twins and later the Dodgers. He combined to hit .215 with an 88 OPS+, the lowest of his career since his rookie season in 2012.
In the previous three years, however, Dozier was one of the best second basemen in baseball. He received MVP votes in 2015, 2016, and 2017, along with an all-star appearance in 2015 and a gold glove award in 2017.
Over those three years, Dozier slashed .258/.335/.496 with a powerful .238 ISO, showing the best facet of his game.
The Nationals signed Dozier to replace Murphy, a two-time all-star and silver slugger award winner with the Nats. Why aren’t more people excited about Dozier joining the team?
Dozier is indeed not a better hitter than Murphy, but Dozier’s glove more than makes up for the gap between him and Murphy. With all due respect, Murphy was not even an average second baseman with his glove.
By inserting Dozier into the starting lineup, the Nationals now possess one of the best defensive infields in the National League.
Anthony Rendon is one of the best fielders in baseball, period, and it is a shame he hasn’t won a gold glove for his efforts (let alone not making an all-star team. But that is a topic for a whole other article).
The Nationals know that pitching is king in baseball. What is a better way to supplement great pitching than to plant great fielders behind them?
Dozier is a critical component of this plan because his skills with his glove are likely not going away. Assuming Dozier’s 2018 season with his bat was a fluke, and he plays as he did in Minnesota, the Nationals got themselves a bargain.
With Dozier following in Murphy’s footsteps, and Carter Kieboom looming for 2020, the Nationals will have no shortage of great second basemen for years to come.