Hunter Dozier experiment in outfield failed for KC Royals

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

It reeked of desperation when the KC Royals announced the young star was moving to right field. It did not last even a shortened season.

The curious – but very KC Royals like – signing of Maikel Franco the last offseason led to questions about the place Hunter Dozier would occupy in the defensive alignment.  Coming off a monster season at the plate it was risky moving him to the outfield and could affect his batting.

Beginning the season missing games with COVID-19 did not help and Dozier never seemed to get in the groove he had last season.  Blaming all of that on being shuffled around in the field is not completely fair, but not all players are like Whit Merrifield and can deal with constant change in what position they are at.

Although he made no errors in the outfield, Sabermetric fielding showed Dozier’s runs above/below what the fielder is worth for right field projected for a 135-game season was (-13) in 2020.  This was obviously not a great position the franchise put him in.

Jeffrey Flanagan is reporting the Royals believe Dozier has All-Star glove capabilities at first and seems to be the odds-on favorite to win that position heading into spring training.  If they are going to commit to having him there let’s hope he gets a fair chance at it and is not shuffled around to other places.

Dozier did receive playing time at first base 51 games back in 2018.  His runs above/below was (-13) and then he only appeared at the position seven times in 2019.  The good news for recent history is that this year in 28 games at first he improved by only being a (-3).

Committing zero errors in 191 chances while manning first this year shows he has improved from the last long look he received two years ago.  With the team seeming to sour on Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom at that spot, this will be Dozier’s opportunity to nail down a spot that has not seen consistency since Eric Hosmer left.

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While Dozier did play three different positions in 2019, 81% of his games were at the hot corner or DH and he had a monster season at the plate.  The Royals would be wise to settle him in at one spot and let his bat return to form.