Seeing 20/20: Twins’ Dozier reaches single-season milestone
MINNEAPOLIS — At one point earlier in the season, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier was asked about the possibility of joining the 30/30 club — meaning 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in one season.
He was on pace for it at the time, but that 30/30 club is an elite one that not many major leaguers are members of. Only 22 players have joined it since 2000, with Angles outfielder Mike Trout and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun the most recent to do it in 2012. Despite Dozier’s good start to the 2014 season, 30/30 seemed a bit unlikely. In fact, no Twins player has ever done it.
But Dozier did join a small group that only a few in Minnesota’s history have joined.
With a stolen base in the first inning of Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, Dozier entered the 20/20 club with his 20th stolen base. He became just the sixth Minnesota player to achieve the feat, joining the likes of Torii Hunter and Kirby Puckett.
However, Dozier’s accomplishment was one of the only highlights for the Twins on Wednesday as they were shut out 5-0 by Cleveland.
"I think it’s pretty cool. I’d be lying to you if I said that was one of my goals at the beginning of the year," Dozier said. "It’s awesome. I’m very blessed and pretty thankful for it and everything, but if you’re not winning games, it doesn’t really taste as good at the end of the day."
After an impressive start to the year, Dozier’s home run and stolen base numbers plateaued in recent months. He had just one home run in 17 games in August before Wednesday, and stole just two bases during that stretch. Through the first two months of the season, Dozier already had 11 homers and 12 stolen bases, which put him on pace — albeit early — for 30/30.
Minnesota still has 37 games remaining, meaning Dozier will have plenty of opportunities to add to his 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. But even if he falls short of 30 and 30, the season can certainly be deemed a success for the 27-year-old Dozier.
"When you look down at the end of the year, that’s a great thing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the 20/20 club. "That’s a hell of a year for him already."
Dozier reached the 20-home run mark on Aug. 10 with a homer against Oakland. That extended his career high, which he set with his 19th homer on July 22. After hitting six homers in 84 games in his first season in 2012, Dozier made some adjustments to his swing en route to 18 homers in 147 games last year.
The stolen bases have taken a similar upward trend since his big-league debut. He stole nine in 2012 and 14 last year, but has since worked closely with coach Paul Molitor on base running. The result has been yet another uptick in his stolen bases. He now has a chance to surpass his career high of 24, which he set in 2011 in a combined 127 games between three different minor-league teams.
"I think I’ve come a long way from seeing the progression of my rookie year to developing a little more power and that kind of thing last year and carrying it into this year," Dozier said. "I feel like personally, I guess I’ve always thought that I could steal bases, and the power’s only come in the past couple years. I guess the most surprising thing is probably the 20 home runs. But at the same time, the season’s not over with. There’s still 40 games or whatever left. Anything can happen. We just need more wins."
Hunter was the last Twins player to join the 20/20 club — and the only one to do so more than once. He most recently did it in 2004 when he hit 23 home runs and stole 21 bases. He also had 26 homers and 23 steals in 2002. Third baseman Corey Koskie entered the 20/20 club in 2001. Marty Cordova hit 24 homers and stole 20 bases as a rookie in 1995. Puckett hit 31 home runs and swiped 20 bags in 1986, and Larry Hisle became the first Twin in the club back in 1977 with 28 homers and 21 steals.
Now Dozier is the sixth member in the club. He just wishes it came in a win, instead of a 5-0 loss that dropped the Twins to 55-70 on the season.
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