It is a tale as old as time. A player has a good season or two, receives a multi-year contract from their organization, and never seems to find those good seasons again. While it’s a bit early to call the entirety of Hunter Dozier’s contract with the KC Royals a bust, he hasn’t gotten off to a good start in the first year of a four-year, $25 million contract.
Now slashing .192/.259/.362, fans are actually gaining a little excitement for the third baseman/outfielder. Typically, .192 isn’t anything to get too excited about, but for Dozier, that is a high point of the season.
To end April he was at .134, May was .147, and June was .160. His highest monthly average for the season before July was .178, paired with a high on-base percentage of .245. While he’s barely into his contract, it’s not unreasonable that many were concerned about what the future would look like.
Thankfully for Dozier, things are starting to take a turn for the better. He hit well in the series against Baltimore, going 7 for 12, adding two doubles, and only striking out twice. The better stats to look at, though, are likely his averages for the entire month of July.
With just a small portion of the month left, Dozier is slashing .348/.404/.522 in July. There is still a lot of season left and Dozier has to continue showing improvement to instill some confidence for the next few years of his contract, but he started to talk about his struggles by placing some blame for his poor start to the season.
"“I’m to blame,” he said. “Opening day, when I blew up my thumb, I know I only missed a couple games, but it was bugging me for a couple weeks and I didn’t do a good job of dealing with it.” kansascity.com"
After the 2020 season in which Dozier saw a drop in many categories and struggled with returning to play after COVID, a blow to the thumb to start 2021 was likely irritating, to say the least, and a blow to his confidence.
He wasn’t out long, but with his thumb issues persisting for some time, Dozier admitted he formed bad habits out of concern for his thumb and likely trying to avoid any time on the injured list.
Dozier understands now, though, that by not addressing the issue out front, he has caused issues for himself throughout the season.
"“I can’t let an injury that affects me one to two weeks affect my first three months of the season; that’s just a bad job on me,” he said. “I was working hard, probably too hard. Thinking about it probably too much, trying to change something when in reality I didn’t really need to change anything.” kansascity.com"
Thankfully, Dozier has started to see some success. While his numbers are still concerning for the season, he has some time to turn things around and get on the right foot going into the offseason.
Now that Dozier has accepted the blame and sees the bad habits he had fallen into, it may be time to see the real reason the Royals offered him a contract. With only a few months left of the season, personal victories will be important for the struggling Kansas City team and Dozier’s is one of the most important for the future of the Royals.
Hunter Dozier has struggled through the 2021 season so far, but he has come to terms with his injury to start the season and the bad habits it’s caused. Thankfully, it seems it might be time for his season to turn around.