Kansas City Royals: Will Hunter Dozier make waves in 2019?
By Trevor Hooth
After missing the 2017 season and a less than ideal 2018, Kansas City Royals infielder Hunter Dozier will hope for better things in 2019.
All in all, Hunter Dozier is happy with how things ended in 2018. It is impossible to miss an entire season, especially the way he did, and live up to expectation. The Kansas City Royals can still get player who was a top three prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline at the end of 2017.
Looking forward to this season starts by looking back to Dozier’s 2017 year, which can be described as a series of very unfortunate events. Out of Spring Training the Royals infielder tore an oblique. He healed, was rehabbing then needed wrist surgery. Rinse and repeat. While rehabbing from that injury he took a ball off the nose, resulting in a facial fracture.
Dozier played in 102 games last season with a .229 batting average and striking out 109 times. At the plate, it was not great. But, his splits back up the fact that he is in a better place.
Statistically, August was the best month for Dozier. He slashed .280/.321/.467 with three homers. His 19 strikeouts were the second lowest mark of any month, beat out by only the month of May where he struck out five less times in 22 less at bats.
What Is The Upside?
According to Dozier’s 2017 MLB Pipeline profile he was overall just a solid player waiting for a chance. Other than his slightly below average run tool, and slightly above average arm, everything else graded out at 50.
Coming up through the Kansas City Royals farm system his strikeout rate was an issue. In 2016, he made a swing alteration that helped his strikeout rate drop from 29 percent to 23 percent. In 2018, that number was back up to 28 percent for the season.
By The Numbers
Words are great, and strikeouts are not as big a deal as they once were. So, what is Dozier’s value? In 2018 it was -0.8 in terms of fWAR.
Per Baseball Savant, it can be seen that Dozier’s hard hit percentage drastically improved as the 2018 season went on. That number hit its low point of 30 percent on his 147th batted ball, around five percent lower than league average. Before that moment his highest mark was 48. After that low point, his numbers shot up, and reached 54 percent on three separate occasions.
Another promising stat is is exit velocity. On 254 batted balls in the 2018 season. Of those, 87 were over 100 MPH, and 51 were over 90 MPH. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of exit velocity, but it does show that he is doing a decent job barreling the ball up.
It takes a look at one other tool to see something else about Dozier. He really loves the pitch low and outside of the zone, but it does not love him. Looking at his zones, that pitch was the most thrown to him at 23 a percent clip. That is 345 pitches in that specific area with 129 swings. When he did make contact his average exit velocity was 78 percent with a negative six degree launch angle. It also was the area of 33 of his strikeouts, highest of any zone.
Making Sense Of It All
These numbers are just a small window into what happened in 2018. There are many others to look at. The thing is that Dozier has shown signs that he can hit at the MLB level. That is all he needs. There is a reason that the second half looked better than the first half, and that is the comfort level playing the game. His 2017 season would prove an issue for any player.
Baseball is such a mental game. Based on some of the peripherals, it seems like a litle confidence and a little luck can go a long way for Dozier. And a good Dozier can go a long way for the Kansas City Royals.
With a healthy 2019, fans of the Kansas City Royals should get to see what put Hunter Dozier at the top of the organization’s prospect list.