Perhaps it was the home run Brian Dozier knocked over the left field fence during the first of the Washington Nationals’ games against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Or maybe it was the second homer he sent sailing to the same spot that evening in the late game of the doubleheader. Most likely it was the twerking that occurred in the dugout following his trips to the plate that confirmed what Nationals fans have been hoping for: Brian Dozier’s swagger is back.
The 32-year-old second baseman struggled to produce early in the season, batting below .200 in his first two months with the Nationals. Dozier’s recent performance, however, suggests he is reaching the level expected of him since he signed as a free agent this offseason.
“I know it’s going to come back around, and I know I’m going to get back to my old self,” Dozier said before Wednesday’s doubleheader. “Sometimes I think my younger self would run out of patience. When you get older, you’re like, it’s coming. It’s just a matter of when it does.”
Over the last 15 games, Dozier has hit .327 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. But the recent boost in his productivity does not seem to surprise those surrounding him.
A homer in each game of the doubleheader? Have a day, Doz! pic.twitter.com/XaSJ76gZbP
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) June 19, 2019 “When he was in Minnesota and getting on one of his hot streaks, he was one of the best players in baseball,” said teammate Kurt Suzuki. “He started off slow [in 2016] too. I remember him. I think he hit 14 homers at the break that year and ended with 40-some homers. When he gets hot, he’s pretty incredible.”
Dozier notched 42 home runs for the Twins in 2016 and was one of the better hitters in baseball. Although he was a slow-starter throughout his six-year stay in Minnesota, his short stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 and the beginning of his career in Washington left some fans concerned.
But Dozier’s faith in himself, and the trust of Manager Dave Martinez, never wavered. In addition to the hours the second baseman has spent working on his technique with Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long, Dozier said the mental training has been a key component to ramping up his game.
“Obviously I made a big adjustment in  getting the ball in the air to left field and creating more power,” he said. “But I think the changes now are more mental. There’s the outlook on everything, the process, what takes place and what doesn’t matter.”
Martinez has also managed to cancel out the criticism he received for keeping Dozier, who typically hits sixth or seventh, in the lineup throughout the season.
“He’s gonna come out of it, you know,” Martinez said. “Here’s a guy that’ll hit 20 plus home runs a lot of years in a row, so I kept telling myself that as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to do that. And now you see the results.”
More Nationals coverage:
Max Scherzer pitches seven scoreless innings with a broken nose and a black eye in Nationals’ 2-0 win
The Nationals simplified Matt Grace’s role to set him straight. Now it will expand again.
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LINK ORIGINAL: Washington Post