Kansas City Royals SI Hunter Dozier is changing things up – for now

In 2013, the Kansas City Royals used the No. 8 overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft on a Stephen F. Austin player named Hunter Dozier. Dozier would work his way through the Royals farm system and eventually make his debut in late 2016. In 2019, Dozier would have a breakout season hitting .279/.348/.522 with 29 doubles, 10 trebles (led MLB) , 26 circuits. and 84 RBIs. After a few years of decline and an early lead to 2022, Dozier is looking for a resurgence for the Kansas City Royals.

The 2020 and 2021 seasons of Hunter Dozier

May 30, 2021;  Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA;  Kansas City Royals designated hitter <a class=Hunter Dozier (17) hits a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports” decoding=”async” src=”https://www.si.com/.image/c_limit%2Ccs_srgb%2Cfl_progressive%2Cq_auto:good%2Cw_700/MTgxNDMwNDQ1NjQzMTQ3MjEx/usatsi_16179599_168390306_lowres.jpg” height=”935″ width=”1403″ srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″ itemprop=”contentUrl url”/>

2020 has been different for everyone as the global pandemic has hampered daily life and sports. MLB would reduce the number of games played in 2020 from 162 to 60, and fans weren’t in attendance for those games. Dozier would play in just 44 of those contests in 2020, hitting .228/.344/.392 with four doubles, two triples, six home runs and 12 RBIs.

In 2021, Dozier’s season started cold – and it wouldn’t improve when he injured his hand and ended up on the injured list. In May, Dozier hit .161/.224/.452 with 22 strikeouts. For most of the season Dozier dealt with the injury and in July something clicked. In 79 plate appearances, he hit .304/.389/.443 with six doubles and eight RBIs. He also walked 11 times and reduced his strikeouts by eight, indicating he saw baseball better.

Although 2021 hasn’t been a spectacular year for Dozier, improvements have been seen in the stats over time. His hit rate increased from 31.2% in 2020 to 42.2% in 2021. Compared to his best year, 2019, Dozier posted a hit rate of 46.2%. Its exit speed also increased from 86.4 mph in 2020 to 89.9 mph in 2021. In 2019, it was 91.8.

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2022 offseason and spring training

Dozier took advantage of the offseason to refocus and spend time with his family. It’s safe to say that so far his change in philosophy is paying off.

Dozier has reset his mind and rocked this offseason, and so far, it’s paying off. In seven Cactus League games, the 30-year-old is 11 for 21 with one brace and just three strikeouts. After spending the winter studying video from 2019, Dozier’s swing looks like his own again.
-Anne Rogers of MLB.com

Right now, Dozier is expected to start Open Day as the designated hitter, but he’s capable of filling in at first base, third base and right field as needed. He will be competing for multiple spots as he looks to become a utility player of sorts. According to Baseball-Reference, Dozier is expected to record 522 plate appearances in 2022. B-Ref predicts he will hit .238/.313/.423 with 23 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs and 57 RBIs. Of course, that’s just a projection, and this writer will go out on a limb and project a better year than this.

The Royals thrive on their farming system and the competitive nature makes its way to Kauffman Stadium. If Dozier has a resurgence, it bodes well for him as a player and the competitive level of the club in 2022 and perhaps beyond.

May 31, 2021;  Kansas City, Missouri, USA;  Kansas City Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi (27) celebrates with third baseman Hunter Dozier (17) after hitting a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff - USA TODAY Sports

Helen L. Cuellar