Which KC Royals player is most likely to hit .400 in 2020?

KC Royals (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
KC Royals (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

In the event of a shortened season, it’s always possible that someone catches fire and doesn’t look back. Could the KC Royals have that player?

In the history of baseball, there have been just 35 seasons in which a player has hit .400 or above. Several of those seasons were by the same player. It’s hard to do. Hall of Famer Ted Williams was the last player to reach the milestone, hitting .406 in 1941. Nearly 80 years have passed, and no one’s been able to accomplish that feat again. Do any current KC Royals have a shot?

Royals legend George Brett was among those closest to posting a .400 season when he hit .390 in 1980. The organization has had some gifted players come and go since, but none have sniffed that number. If the 2020 regular season begins as planned, which is still far from a sure thing, roughly half a season’s worth of games will be played. A few hot streaks throughout the year could outweigh the inevitable cold spells players encounter throughout a normal 162-game campaign. If anyone was to hit .400, 2020 would be the year.

With that said, which members of the KC Royals are most likely to even come close? The team doesn’t have a ton of pure hitters, and Whit Merrifield is the only player to post a batting average of .300 or above in either of the past two seasons. Here’s the top five from a season ago:

Dozier was fairly consistent in 2019, posting a .282 BA in the first half of the season and a .276 BA in the second half. Gordon’s numbers are dragged down by a horrible month of August. Without that month in the picture, he would’ve hit .287 on the year. Soler’s red-hot second half saw him hit .299 but with such a high strikeout rate, it’s hard to see him doing much better than that long-term. Mondesi is a high-strikeout player as well, putting a cap on his ceiling as a hitter until he can fix his issues at the plate.

Every one of the aforementioned players has his drawbacks in this hypothetical. Gordon’s age (36) makes him a highly unlikely candidate to have a career season. Dozier is a good hitter, but not a great one. Soler and Mondesi both swing and miss far too often to qualify for the .400 chase. That leaves one player…

Merrifield is the only Royal with a remote chance at making it happen. After all, he does have the longest hitting streak in franchise history (breaking Brett’s record last season). If he can play the best baseball of his life for a few months, perhaps he can flirt with .350 instead of .300. Even then, that’s still a far cry from .400. Anything that extreme would be reserved for a top-three hitter in today’s game.

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Who do you see being the next MLB player to hit .400? Let us know in the comments below.