MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier is proving early this season that hitting a team-leading 18 home runs last season was no fluke, as he again leads the team in homers.
Dozier entered Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays tied for second in the American League with four homers in 12 games. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's not surprised that his leadoff hitter is supplying power again but would like to see him improve his .191 batting average and .328 on-base percentage.
"He can obviously do it and he's doing it again this year," Gardenhire said. "But ultimately what we'd like to see for him is to get his batting average and on-base percentage up leading off. But home runs are gonna come with that swing. He has a short swing but it's to the ball. If they make a mistake, he can pull the ball, and in this ballpark if you can pull the ball, you can do some things."
Gardenhire also noted that Dozier has been hurt by some tough luck early this year, and it's evidenced by his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Dozier is hitting just .161 on balls hit in play after hitting .278 on balls in play last year, according to fangraphs.com. The league average BABIP is usually about .300.
He's also hitting line drives at a higher rate than last year, with 22.9 percent of the balls he has hit this season being classified as line drives, compared to 20.8 percent last season.
"He's had some bad luck hitting the ball right at some people," Gardenhire said. "But we believe he can be a .275-.300 hitter. That's what we hope. He's a pretty good all-around player."