Hunter Dozier finally came into his own in 2019. And it was fun to watch.
In 2018 Hunter Dozier played in 102 games for the Kansas City Royals. He hit less than .230 and got on base less than 28 percent of the time. Even more worrisome for a corner infielder, he failed to slug over .400.
Going into 2019 Hunter Dozier was 27 years old. He was a mostly average hitter in AAA. In the big leagues, he had a measly 6 percent walk rate and a 28 percent strikeout rate. He was working hard just to become an average defensive player. The Royals could have easily justified giving someone else a shot. Even Cheslor Cuthbert was younger and had better numbers over the one season in which he had been given a chance to play over 100 big league games.
The one thing Hunter Dozier had done in 2018, though, was hit the ball hard. His hard-hit percentage was 45 percent. And his soft hit percentage was 15 percent. When he hit the ball, he barreled it up. And give the Royals their credit, they noticed it and gave him 2019 to show us what he had.
To Dozier’s credit, what he showed us was that his ability to square the ball up was not a fluke. His 2019 hard-hit percentage was over 45 percent. His Slugging Percentage finally bloomed in 2019 all the way to .522. His walk rate also climbed to almost 10 percent and his strikeout rate even fell a few points down to 25 percent.
Hunter Dozier is far from a sure thing. He has one very nice season under his belt. But an OPS+ of 125 is proof he can handle big-league pitching. If he can keep his strikeouts under control, there is no reason to believe he will stop hitting the ball hard anytime soon.