Brian Dozier had an outstanding series in the field in late July, causing me to suggest on Twitter that he should be the leading candidate to win the Gold Glove at second base in the American League.
Dozier became a finalist with Detroit’s Ian Kinsler and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia. The winners were announced last week. Byron Buxton was a clear choice in center field for the managers and coaches who did the voting, and so was Dozier at second.
Apparently, the attempts to produce fielding analysis put Dozier in the middle of second basemen. The eye test says he gets to the ball, has a strong arm and is solid at the turning the double play — the latter always having been crucial for playing the position.
As important as performing well is this: Dozier plays. He started 151 games at second base and totaled 702 plate appearances, compared to 134 and 613 for Kinsler and 97 and 463 for Pedroia.
Dozier has been the Twins’ ironman for four seasons, basically only coming out of the lineup at the insistence of his managers. Since 2014, he has played in 620 of the Twins’ 648 games. Joe Mauer is second on the team with 553 games.
Fifty years ago, Bud Grant came down from Winnipeg to coach the Vikings and soon was telling us that durability was as important as ability.
It is harder to play through injuries these days than ever. The popular theory is that’s because a higher percentage of current athletes are reluctant to do so. The real reasons for this are tremendous improvement in diagnosis and the vigilance of most medical staffs.
There is the still the opportunity to twist an ankle, or to suffer a bruise or muscle pull, or to come to the ballpark feeling moderately ill, and to keep playing, and that’s what Dozier has done.
There are three factors in staying in a lineup, and the first two are absolutely necessary: A) performance, and B) the good fortune to avoid a significant injury.
And five decades after Bud’s declaration, there is another factor in being an ironman: C) iron will.
PATRICK'S PLUS THREE
Other ironmen on the state pro sports scene:
• Everson Griffen was limited in Vikings practice this past week. Expect him to be rushing Kirk Cousins on Sunday. He has missed one start (illness) in four seasons.
• Andrew Wiggins has missed one game in three-plus seasons and Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t missed a game in two-plus seasons for Timberwolves.
• Ryan Suter has missed five of 436 games (including playoffs) since signing with Wild and has averaged nearly 29 minutes on ice.
Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.