KC Royals Projections: Can Hunter Dozier rebound?
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2022. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is Hunter Dozier.
Last February, the Royals signed Hunter Dozier to a new four-year, $25 million contract with a $10 million option for 2025. The deal wasn’t due so much due to his 2020 line of .228/.344/.392 for the short 2020 season, but more to his 2019 line of .279/.348/.522 and 26 home runs, 84 RBIs and 10 triples.
During the 2021 season, however, Dozier had his fair share of shortcomings. For one, he began the season insanely cold, struggling to a .134 average in the month of April and a .161 average in May. To add injury to insult, Dozier had a scary collision with Jose Abreu of the White Sox May 14 while catching a popup along the first base line. Dozier landed on the seven-day Injured List after exiting with neck discomfort and a quad contusion.
After coming off his injury, Dozier continued to play poorly, batting way below the Mendoza Line at .160 by the end of June. In July, however, Dozier had a mysterious resurgence, collecting a .304 average with one home run, eight RBIs and 11 walks that month.
Part of his transformation was due to forming bad habits and trying to change his swing after injuring his thumb Opening Day. Things then began looking up for Dozier, who ended the season slashing .216/.285/.394 with a .680 OPS and 16 home runs, 54 RBIs, 27 doubles and six triples.
How will he fare in 2022?
Baseball Reference & FanGraphs projections for the KC Royals’ Hunter Dozier.
Baseball Reference projects Dozier will slash .238/.313/.423 with a .737 OPS. This includes 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 48 walks, 23 doubles, six triples, and five stolen bases.
FanGraphs (Depth Chart version) provides a similar outlook, predicting Dozier will hit .236/.308/.424 with 17 home runs, 57 RBIs and 56 runs scored.
What kind of season will Dozier actually have for the 2022 KC Royals?
Baseball Reference and FanGraphs have fairly similar assessments regarding Dozier for 2022. Both project his batting average will increase around 20 points, while his home runs, RBIs and run total stay similar to last season.
(One thing to note about last season is Dozier’s numbers before and after the All-Star Break—in other words, before and after he recovered from his injury. Prior to the All-Star Break, Dozier slashed .174/.242/.344 with a .586 OPS. After the Break, he slashed .261/.331/.449 with a .780 OPS).
Another thing worth considering is how the Royals’ starting lineup will shape up. Dozier is versatile and can fit in as a right fielder, third baseman or first baseman, although he may stay mainly in right field.
Overall, while Dozier’s 2021 season didn’t measure up to his contract value, injuries should be taken into account when projecting him. While his career batting average sits at .241, Dozier can be viewed as capable of exceeding the Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections, and could hit around the .254-.260 range.
Hunter Dozier may well improve on his disappointing 2021 season.