Hindsight isn’t necessary to demonstrate why the KC Royals shouldn’t have given Hunter Dozier a $25 million contract before the 2021 season began.
The deal was a bad idea at the time, a move the club never should have made. Sure, hitting 26 homers, driving in 84 runs, tying for the big league lead in triples with 10, and slashing .279/.348/.522 made for a great 2019 season, but it’s the only special campaign Dozier’s had, and he sandwiched it between a poor 2018 (.229, 82 OPS+), and a subpar 2020 (.228, 99 OPS+) for which he earned $610,000. (In fairness, he missed KC’s first 15 games that year after testing positive for COVID).
After that season, and with the business of baseball being what it is, the Royals bumped him to $2.72 million for 2021, quite an increase for a player boasting a single good season in three.
Just two months later and well before Dozier saw even a spring training pitch under his new deal, the Royals tore up that contract and replaced it with a four-year, $25 million extension. Dozier responded with 16 home runs, but batted .216, a number he partially blamed on a thumb injury he admitted he mishandled.
How did he perform last season, the second of his four-year deal?
In 2022, Hunter Dozier continued to struggle at the plate for the KC Royals.
Dozier’s contract remains highly questionable—he did little in 2022 to suggest otherwise, or to justify what is for him an increasingly good deal, and for his employer an increasingly bad one.
In only one month last season did his average exceed .264 (.303 in May); he dipped below .200 in June (.192) and across September and October (.194), and hit an even .200 in August. He finished at .236 with a 91 OPS+ and 90 wRC+. He struck out 25% of the time.
Dozier, whose defense always seems to worry the Royals, played first and third bases, left and right fields, and even pitched an inning. But he still hasn’t, and may never, claim any position as his own.
What grade does Dozier deserve for 2022? We’ll give him a D, and hope he lives up to that big contract next season.
Once again, Hunter Dozier didn’t have a good season for the Royals.