KANSAS CITY, MO. — While Brian Dozier continues his pursuit of Rogers Hornsby’s home-run record for second basemen, he’s pulled alongside a few other legendary names with his remarkable season.
By stealing two bases Tuesday, Dozier increased his stolen-base success rate to 90.0 percent — 18 of 20 — putting him in the company of four other players with such gaudy statistics since 1950. Mickey Mantle (twice), Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Albert Belle also had seasons with more than 40 home runs and a 90 percent success rate on the bases (minimum 10 stolen bases).
“That’s very good company,” Dozier said of the trio of Hall of Famers in that bunch. “I’m not worthy of that comparison, but those are pretty good names.”
Dozier has become far better known for his home-run hitting this season, since only Harmon Killebrew (another Hall of Famer) had ever eclipsed 40 homers for the Twins.
With four games remaining, Dozier is still two homers shy of the record for most by a second baseman, held by Hornsby and Davey Johnson. But Dozier’s an underrated base-stealer, too, said manager Paul Molitor.
“He knows when he has a chance and he’s very smart about how he goes about getting it done,” Molitor said. “He understands the risk/reward. He’s got the freedom from me to [run] because he’s proven to me he can make good choices.”
Dozier said he learned that trait from yet another Hall of Famer: Molitor.
“He was never a burner, and I’m not a burner by any means. But I try to make sure the [pitcher’s delivery] is over a certain time, and factor that in with the situation in the game. You look at a guy like [Cleveland’s] Rajai Davis, guys like that, they can just make it with sheer speed. I’m not as fortunate to have that kind of speed, so you have to pick your spots.”
That’s why Molitor believes Dozier’s 18 steals, three off his career high set in 2014, is about the upper limit of his ability. Any more would mean taking on many more risky attempts.
‘‘To try to get him to steal 35 or 40 bases is probably not going to happen,” Molitor said. “He’s not our fastest guy, but you watch his jumps and you watch how he increases his lead when he knows he can take advantage of a guy who’s not quick to first base.
‘‘He probably knows more about finding edges, because he watches more video. He does his homework, and it pays off.”
Google the boss
When Molitor heard media reports that Derek Falvey will be his new boss, he decided to get some information on the Twins’ incoming chief of baseball operations. So he googled him.
Molitor made it clear he hasn’t heard any confirmation that the Indians’ assistant general manager is the choice of Twins owner Jim Pohlad but said Wednesday he’s looking forward to eliminating the uncertainly about the team’s front-office direction.
“I don’t know if it’s relief,” Molitor said. “We all know that leadership, in terms of our executive side, has been up in the air for a while. If we start to finalize that here, and do what we need to do to go forward, that will be good.”
The 60-year-old manager read that Falvey is 33 years old, so he was joking with other members of the Twins’ staff “about [having] a father-son relationship.” But he said if Falvey is indeed the Twins’ choice, he’s not surprised that the new boss will be so young.
“It’s kind of the trend in the game. There are a lot of youthful people with great baseball minds that are getting opportunities to do some big things,” Molitor said. “I don’t look at that as really a very big factor. … A typical attribute [would be] energy, freshness, vision — a lot of things you would hope would come from a younger person like that.”