His third homer of the afternoon went into the third deck of Target Field. The pitcher's name was (Brooks) Pounders, and the ball was pounded, a forceful blow from the man providing power production the likes of which we have rarely seen from a second baseman, in the midst of a second-half binge we've rarely seen from anybody, anywhere.
Brian Dozier was expressionless as he rounded the bases, unmoved as he high-fived his teammates and nonchalant as he obliged the home crowd's request for a curtain call last Sunday.
The reason was obvious: His trio of taters was not nearly enough for his Twins to avoid an 11-5 loss to the Royals.
And if you wanted a one-sentence summation of the 2016 Twins season, well, there it was.
"It is what it is," Dozier said, and we'll forgive the cliché given the conditions.
Unfortunately, Dozier's 2016, in which he could eclipse Davey Johnson's 1973 record for home runs by a second baseman (43) and might very well become just the 13th player in history to hit 30 second-half homers, is the latest and most highly visible example of the lost season -- a year extraordinary in individual significance but, sadly, ineffectual in its standings significance. (The Twins stink, is what we're saying.)
Though our attentions are naturally gravitating toward the contenders at the moment, we feel a small salute to these seasons is in order. Note that we're not using this space as another means to tout Mike Trout or other established stars on sub-.500 clubs, but rather to celebrate guys who, one way or another, took a giant leap forward in '16, even if their teams didn't.
To the list!
Christian Yelich, Marlins
As an update to what was noted in this week's Rotation, the Marlins' postseason chances have dropped from 40 percent going into August to 0.8 percent at last look. The Fish are fried. But at least they got some big steps forward from outfielders not named Giancarlo Stanton. Marcell Ozuna was an All-Star (though his second half output has been more reflective of a miserable 2015 season that earned him a demotion to Triple-A), and Ichiro has been an ageless wonder.
But the best of the bunch has been Yelich. He was already a really good player with gap power, speed and a high-OBP that lends itself to the leadoff role. But this year he's become a legit No. 3 hitter by adding more thump (career-high 18 homers and .486 SLG) without sacrificing his plate discipline.
D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies
Going to say there's a good chance you don't remember LeMahieu was an All-Star selection last year -- via the player's ballot, no less. (I'll admit I totally forgot.) LeMahieu had a solid year in '15 and, in the last few years, has developed a reputation as a terrific defender at second base. But this year, his offense has gone next-level, with a league-leading .343 batting average and a more-than-100-point jump in slugging percentage. He'll have a hard time sustaining his incredible second-half output, but his refined two-strike approach is an all-too-rare trait these days.
Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
Like so much else associated with the D-backs this year, this guy has been … wait for it … snakebitten. Ray gives up more than his fair share of hits, but he's pitching for a team that's gone distinctly backward defensively in '16, and there are peripheral indicators -- such as Fielding Independent Pitching and SIERA -- that insist he's pitched far, far better than his 4.46 ERA would indicate.
Ray has oddly been both hittable and miss-able (he's striking out 11 batters per nine), so frankly it's hard to know what to make of his season. But he's the best starter the D-backs have got, and they didn't have to pay him a $34 million salary or give up Dansby Swanson for him. So that's got to be worth something.
Anthony DeSclafani, Reds
He led all rookie pitchers in the FanGraphs WAR calculation last year, but that was just a small taste, rally. After waiting out an annoying oblique injury that forced him to miss the first two months, DeSclafani has been sensational in establishing himself as the Reds' anchor. Go back to June 10, when he made his first start of the season, and the guy they call "Disco" has the fifth-best ERA (2.93) in the NL, to go with a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 144 ERA+.
Tyler Chatwood, Rockies
An adjusted ERA 27 percent better than league average from a guy who was south of league average over the course of his first 61 Major League starts and endured two Tommy John recoveries before the age of 26 is a really big step forward. Oh, and check this out ...
Chatwood on the road: 1.82 ERA, .190/.286/.261 opponents' slash
Chatwood at home: 5.67 ERA, /.298/.367/.478 opponents' slash
This guy could use a beer. But maybe don't make it a Coors.
Brad Miller, Rays
Power from the shortstop slot is a great thing, and, for a time, the Rays had that from Miller, a 26-year-old who got dealt from the Mariners to the Rays last offseason, only to break out with 26 homers and a .500 SLG. Only problem is, the Rays weren't satisfied with Miller's defense, so they've moved him to first base (Miller, for the record, was in disagreement with the move.)
But hey, he's shown he's got legit power for that position, too.
Gregory Polanco, Pirates
The Buccos' September slide has basically killed the concept of them winning four straight Wild Cards, so this has, indeed, turned out to be a transition year in Pittsburgh. At least they can feel good about Polanco's part in the transition, on the whole. It hasn't been a consistent season. Polanco has largely lived off the fumes of an ultra-hot April and May.
But he's also likely been the victim of some bad luck, as evidenced by a .254 BABIP since the start of June. Bottom line is the man known as "El Coffee" perked up at the plate this year, raising his OPS by more than 100 points to cross the .800 mark after getting some good advice from David Ortiz over the offseason.
Jose Quintana, White Sox
This guy has gone from annual member of the All-Underrated squad to the periphery of the Cy Young discussion, with a 3.05 ERA and 133 ERA+. Oh, and the White Sox, for all their faults, finally dredged up enough run support for him to get that elusive double-digit win total after three straight seasons of nine wins with strong numbers. Cool.
Jake Lamb, D-backs
Here's a guy who mashed in the Minors but endured a foot injury early last year and then had to an adjust to an overhaul of his swing mechanics over the offseason before he could really shine on the big league stage. The power has been prodigious in his age-25 season -- 27 homers, 25 doubles and a nearly 150-point rise in slugging percentage.
Tyler Thornburg, Brewers
If we listed every good reliever on a bad team, you would be the one who needs relief. From how long this list is. But Thornburg has been especially impressive in what was a real crossroads season for him. After much yin-and-yang between the rotation and bullpen and out of Minor League options, he took a spot in the Brewers' bullpen and has slowly but surely ascended to the closer role. He's seen a spike in his fastball velocity, and he's struck out 11.7 batters per nine while limiting the opposition to a .150/.231/.275 slash.
But whether your name is Tyler Thornburg or Dan Jennings or Ryan Dull or Jeanmar Gomez, we salute you, Good Reliever on Bad Team. You are the straw that stirs the drink… even if the drink gets spilled on the lap.
Wil Myers, Padres
We could take issue with the way his output has crumbled in the second half (.201/.328/.622). But with all Myers has had on his plate this year -- new position, bad team, first full season, All-Star ambassador at age 25 -- he's had what can only be described as an encouraging year. He'll finish with 25 homers, 25 doubles and 25 stolen bases. That's a pretty strong foundation moving forward.
Adam Eaton, White Sox
His performance at the plate is basically in line with his career norms, but this list would feel incomplete without mention of those dramatic defensive strides Eaton made with the move to right field. The numbers show it (Eaton has been worth 24 defensive runs saved in right this season after being worth minus-14 in center last year, and he's got 205 putouts). But perhaps just as importantly, so does the eye test. When you watch the White Sox, you can tell Eaton is a game-changer in right, and that's something we just didn't say about him in center.
Adam Duvall, Reds
OK, another guy who could not keep up his first-half feats. And no surprise there. Duvall came out of nowhere to bash his way onto the NL All-Star squad. But the second half has presented him with the necessary approach adjustments that will help him remain a viable everyday big leaguer -- something very few people were touting him to be when the Giants forked him over in the Mike Leake trade last summer. Duvall has already hit 30 homers, and, after moving to left field following the trade, he's got the ninth-most defensive runs saved of anybody in baseball right now. A relatively late bloom (he just turned 28), but a bloom all the same.
Junior Guerra, Brewers
I admittedly have a soft spot for guys who can be described as "31-year-old rookie," but who doesn't? Guerra is a former catcher who converted to the mound, only to be released by the Mets in '09 after a flunked PED test. He pitched in Italy. He pitched in Mexico. He pitched in independent ball. And now, after a winter waiver claim, he's pitched his way to a 2.85 ERA and 149 ERA+ in 110 2/3 innings over 18 starts for the Brew Crew. It's not an entirely seamless story (he missed some time with elbow soreness), but it's a great lost season, all the same.
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Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.