As the first month of the season comes to a close, the KC Royals find themselves atop the AL standings with little help from Hunter Dozier and his slow start.
Coming off an off-season where Hunter Dozier got a contract extension of four years for $25 million dollars with a team option at the end, KC Royals fans expected Hunter Dozier to return to his 2019 form.
So far though, he has not been great. This season, his slash line is .129/.182/.242 with an OPS of .424. To say the least, this is not a good start to Dozier’s year and it has hurt the Royals offense. You may think that he has just not hit the ball very well, but it is the exact opposite.
This year Dozier has actually hit the ball similarly to his 2019 self but has gotten a little bit unlucky. To compare the hitting profiles of this year to his 2019 form, let’s start with his exit velocity, barrel%, and launch angle.
This year Dozier’s average exit velocity is 90.5 mph which is only a 0.5 difference from his 2019 season of 91 mph. His barrel% is this year is 11.4%, which is an uptick from 10% in 2019, and an uptick in barrels typically means more hits. For the launch angle, there is a difference with the 2019 season being 16.9 and in 2020 it is 12.2.
What all of this means is that he has a very similar stat line to his 2019 form so far, but why has he struggled so much this year? Part of the answer is in his BABIP. Dozier’s BABIP is very low at .143, which means he has been very unlucky so far this year.
Although Dozier’s BABIP is low, it is not the only factor that has led to this slow start for him. For one his walk rate is down to 6.1% from 14.5% from last year and 9.4% in 2019. Dozier has so far generated the lowest wOBA in his career with a .190, meaning he is not getting on-base as well as not generating any offensive value so far this year.
Another problem that Dozier is seeing is the fact that he is pulling the ball at the second-highest rate in his career at 45.5% and that is not typical. His average pull percentage over his career is 39%, which is average and he has been lowering it in favor of going the other way.
With all of this, just remember that it is the first month of the season and Dozier is still a good batter. Once he can get going the KC Royals offense can become even better with threats at almost every spot in the lineup.
All Dozier needs to fix is being a little more selective at the plate and going to the opposite or up the middle more when he hits the ball. If he can do that, everything should begin to fix itself as he will still demolish baseballs and hopefully not get so unlucky.
The KC Royals have struggled recently offensively and need someone to the bats going as a lot of the starting lineup has slumped. I believe that Hunter Dozier is the guy to get them out of the slump.