Do all-star opportunities await Twins' Dozier, Suzuki?
May 27, 2014 at 6:10p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier, All-Star?
The midsummer classic is still more than a month away, but Major League Baseball unveiled the first update of the All-Star Game ballots. Dozier is in the mix at second base, currently sitting fourth among American League second basemen.
Dozier is hitting .246 with 11 home runs and a league-high 42 runs scored entering Tuesday's game against the Texas Rangers. As he continues to put up impressive numbers, Dozier's chances at earning his first All-Star nod are also increasing.
"With the start he's gotten off to, he should be the starting second baseman," said Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki. "His play explains it. Not just his hitting, but he goes out there and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense out there."
Suzuki has joined Dozier as the only other Twins player currently in the top five at their position in the All-Star balloting. He's in fifth place among AL catchers after Tuesday's preliminary results were released, trailing Matt Wieters, Brian McCann, Derek Norris and A.J. Pierzynski. Like Dozier, Suzuki has gotten off to a strong start offensively, batting .299 with 27 RBI prior to Tuesday.
When Minnesota signed Suzuki this season as a defensive specialist behind the plate, few people would have expected this type of offense from him. Even fewer likely would have predicted he'd be in the All-Star discussion in late May.
"In my opinion, he's one of the best catchers in the league right now," Dozier said of Suzuki. "He's done an amazing job. In my opinion, he definitely should make it. But it's still early. We're not really concentrating on that too much."
Dozier trails Detroit's Ian Kinsler, Seattle's Robinson Cano and Boston's Dustin Pedroia in the voting for second basemen. He's got a ways to go to catch Kinsler, whose 356,244 votes are well ahead of the 194,941 Dozier has garnered.
A glance at the statistics for American League second basemen shows that Dozier certainly belongs in the All-Star discussions. According to FanGraphs, his WAR of 1.9 is second for second basemen behind Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is fifth in the All-Star voting. Dozier's 11 home runs lead all players at that position, and his 42 runs are the most in the league -- seven more than Kinsler.
Suzuki's numbers are holding their own against the rest of the league's catchers, even though his bat was criticized by some outside of the organization when he signed with the Twins this winter. His 27 RBI are most at the position in the AL, and his .299 average is tops among all qualified AL catchers.
"They've both played very well up to this point," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Dozier and Suzuki. "They both have had good starts this season. You expect that. I think they're getting recognized by people. They're going out there and getting it done. . . . Their numbers are saying that they should be in that voting and get some people punching those holes for them, so that's good. Well deserved for both of those guys."
Angels outfielder Mike Trout leads all AL players with 746,007 votes, while Toronto's Jose Bautista and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter are second and third, respectively. Noticeably absent from the early round of voting this year is Joe Mauer, the Twins first baseman who was routinely among the leading vote-getters among AL catchers before he switched positions this offseason. That will be a tough group for Mauer to crack, with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and White Sox rookie Jose Abreu leading that category.
Pitchers aren't voted upon by fans, so none were announced during Tuesday's balloting update. But Minnesota could have a pitcher or two pitching at Target Field in July if things continue as they've been through the first two months. Closer Glen Perkins earned his first All-Star Game appearance last season and his 14 saves are tied for the most in the AL. And Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who starts Tuesday against the Rangers, is pitching well enough to garner some All-Star dicussions. He's 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA and could earn his second All-Star bid, with the other coming in 2010 with the Yankees.
The Twins know there's still plenty of time to go before their home park hosts this year's All-Star Game. And while it's nice to have several players mentioned in the conversation, Minnesota's focus is not on the All-Star ballots.
"I know it's still a little bit away, and I don't really want to think about that right now, but yeah, it came out and it's cool," Dozier said. "It would be fun to represent the Twins and do that kind of stuff. . . . Everybody has individual goals, but we're focused on winning right now. All the other stuff will take care of itself."
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