Hunter Dozier’s play hasn’t lived up to the contract the KC Royals gave him.
Before the 2021 season began, Hunter Dozier signed a four-year, $25 million contract with a $10 million team option for 2025. This was a in part a response to the promise of his 2019 season when he posted a .279 average with 26 homers and 84 RBIs. So far, however, Dozier hasn’t been able to duplicate that performance.
This year, he’s slashing .174/.242/.344 with a .220 BABIP, and a -2.1 WAR—by far the lowest performance on the team next to Jorge Soler’s. A major factor in his decreased production is his plate discipline.
Per FanGraphs, Dozier’s K% has increased from 25.8 last season to 29.6 and his BB% has decreased from 14.5 to 7.6. The staggering shifts of increased strikeouts and decreased walks shows Dozier’s impatience at the plate.
Another factor has been injuries. In May, Dozier landed on the seven-day IL before being transferred to the 10-day list with a concussion, quad contusion, and neck discomfort after a collision with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. And when the shortened 2020 season began, he was put on the IL due to COVID-19 and finished the campaign with a .228 average, six home runs, and 12 RBIs in 44 games.
It goes without saying that next to Soler, Dozier has been the weakest link in the KC Royals’ lineup, and hasn’t played up to his contract. There is hope, though—he’s hitting .265 in July with three doubles, a homer and four RBIs in 10 games.
The 2021 season has been frustrating for the Royals. Some of that frustration has much to do with the underperformances of key team components Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, and the pitching staff.