Hunter Dozier’s sophomore season could be one of the best in the history of the Kansas City Royals. Who else found success in their second season?
I knew Hunter Dozier was having a nice year but looking closer at his statistics it seems he could have one of the best offensive second years in Kansas City Royals history. While researching I did limit this to players who played their rookie and sophomore years as a major league player with the Royals.
Players that had intriguing statistics but not enough to make the list include Steve Balboni drilling 36 home runs in 1985 (a Kansas City single-season record until Mike Moustakas surpassed that in 2017), Bo Jackson hitting 27 home runs and stealing 25 bases in 1988, Mark Teahen knocking 18 balls out of the park in only 109 games in 2006 and Adalberto Mondesi swiping 32 bags and slugging 14 home runs in only 291 plate appearances just last year.
First up is the 2017 season put on by Whit Merrifield. Whit had a decent, but forgettable, rookie year with a nice batting average but no real power or speed displayed. That changed the next year when in 145 games he hit 19 home runs, smacked 32 doubles and led the league with 34 stolen bases. His power-speed number that season ranks 7th all-time in Kansas City Royals history and he had a 3.9 WAR to boot.
Following his outstanding rookie year eclipsed only by Mark McGwire‘s home run binge, Kevin Seitzer turned in a fine second season in 1988. Seitzer still batted .300, touched home plate 90 times, had an OBP of 0.388, collected 170 hits, produced a WAR of 4.3, and this was the season he took over third base from George Brett. Talk about big cleats to fill.
Speaking of Brett, he put on a show in his sophomore season back in 1975. He led the majors with 13 triples, his 195 hits were best in the American League and the ninth-best in Royals history (although Merrifield may surpass him this season), batted .308, stole 13 bags and finished 11th in MVP voting.
Next up is Amos Otis who started out with the New York Mets but never surpassed rookie status in his two seasons out east. In 1971 he really shined by leading the AL with 52 swipes, hitting .301, striking out only 40 times in 607 plate appearances, winning a gold glove and was eighth in the MVP race. Otis’ WAR in ’71 was 5.3 and the stolen base total is the seventh-best in Kansas City Royal history.
One name who surprised me was Willie Wilson. His 1979 season is full of amazing accomplishments including scoring 113 runs, 185 base knocks that led to a .315 batting average, stealing a major league-leading 83 stolen bases, and generating a WAR of 6.3. No other Royal has stolen that many bases in a season and the runs are the fifth most ever for a Kansas City player.
So where does this place Dozier with the 2019 campaign that is coming to a close? On the all-time Kansas City Royal individual season accomplishment lists, he has the tenth highest slugging percentage at .550, sits in 13th for OPS (.913), is tied for American League lead in triples, and his 26 blasts are only behind Balboni for a sophomore. The WAR is not as high as the players listed above but for a second-year player, this is one of the better seasons we have seen out of a Royal.