2020 KC Royals season preview: Hunter Dozier
By Jordan Foote
Hunter Dozier broke out in a big way in 2019. Can the KC Royals’ former first-round pick replicate that success — or get even better — in 2020?
Welcome to the continuation of Kings of Kauffman‘s 2020 KC Royals season previews. Leading up to spring training, we’ll be breaking down 30 different Royals. Our analysis will include what they accomplished last season, what to expect this season, along with any other information pertinent to the player. Today’s subject: Hunter Dozier.
Dozier went No. 8 overall in the 2013 MLB Draft to the Royals after a terrific career at Stephen F. Austin State University. The hype around him was immense and although he was able to make his MLB debut in 2016, it was short-lived. He wouldn’t receive consistent playing time until two seasons later, and the results weren’t pretty.
In 102 games during the 2018 season, Dozier hit .229 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. He didn’t look good at the plate and his fit with the team long-term began to be brought into question. He silenced all of his doubters in 2019, though.
What did he offer last season?
Last year was very kind to the now 28-year-old. In 139 games, Dozier posted a .279/.348/.522 line with 10 triples, 26 home runs and 84 RBIs. His .870 OPS and 125 OPS+ both bolstered his case as one of the league’s top breakthrough players of the year at the plate, along with cementing his status as a staple in the Royals’ lineup for years to come.
While his defense at third base wasn’t very good, Dozier managed to avoid being a trainwreck at the hot corner. With the franchise signing third baseman Maikel Franco to a one-year deal, Dozier was moved to right field. He’ll be spending plenty of time there this season.
What should we expect in 2020?
Here are two stat line projections for Dozier’s 2020 season, courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs:
B-Ref: .258/.323/.469 line, 6 3B, 21 HR, 67 RBI, .791 OPS
FG: .252/.322/.445 line, 7 3B, 22 HR, 82 RBI, .767 OPS
Surprisingly, as Dozier continues to develop in the middle of his athletic prime, both projection systems think he’ll regress in 2020. Not to the level of a bad player, but it’s certainly a far cry from the Dozier we all witnessed break out a season ago. Personally, those projections seem a bit too harsh for my liking. His performance at the plate shouldn’t take much of a dip (if any) and playing in right field should see his defense improve quite a bit as well.
If only Hunter Dozier were a few years younger. He’s still young enough to fit into the KC Royals’ next window of contention as a player in his prime years, but not by much. His best years are here now, which is a great thing for a guy who was once on the outside looking in at a roster spot. He’s carved out an everyday role on the team and as his bat continues to produce, the defense should soon match. With that athletic profile, 2020 is going to be a second-straight very good year for the “Bull-Dozier.”
What do you think, Royals fans? Can Dozier carry the momentum he generated in 2019 into this season, or could he be in for some regression?