As I’ve watched Hunter Dozier this year, I have become much more optimistic about Dozier as the Royals third base solution for years to come. His defense at both spots of the corner infield are lacking; however, over thirteen (very small sample of appearances) in Right Field, he grades out as elite with a UZR of 13.5–according to Fangraphs. This could be something to look into for the Royals, if they did not have 8 outfielders on the roster already. Yet, I believe Dozier’s bat is good enough to play at any position moving forward, but the Royals need him to stick as a third basemen.
The numbers show Dozier is not a bat that opponents should lose sleep over–with a meager .687 OPS. Although, his hard-hit rate is over 45%, and his soft contact is below 15%, his walk rate is low, at about 7%, and his O-swing % would be among the top 15 in the league if he had enough at bats to qualify. This tells me he is swinging at pitches in the zone, and he has hit the ball hard all season, but where do these hard-hit balls turn into outs?
As you can see from these three graphs, one stadium has fewer home runes than the rest while the other two are superior hitters parks–can you guess which is which? Well, the first is at Kauffman, the second is at Yankee’s stadium, and the third option is with the Seattle Mariners at SafeCo Field. I used Hunter’s home batted balls and at Kauffman, he has hit five home-runs and found he would have five more home runs if he was a Yankee. But at SafeCo, he would have 17(!!!!!) home-runs–12 more than he would at Kauffman. These graphs are extremely encouraging, and should show
Using StatCast data, Hunter has an AVG. exit velocity of 89.8–good for 80th in the MLB, smack dab in between power-hitter Anthony Rizzo, and still respectable bat, Steve Pearce. In this category, Dozier is 30 spots ahead of old friend Mike Moustakas, and above players like Javier Baez, breakout player Brandon Nimmo, and Justin Smoak.
As we have gone through this article, I have tried to show how Hunter would be a more effective hitter in a different park, and how his hard hit % doesn’t correlate well with his batting average. What this should tell you is 1) Dozier will never be a 40 homer type of guy, but 25-30 with 40 doubles? Maybe. Which leads us into number 2) Dozier is a rookie, and his stats are starting to reflect how well he is swinging the bat. Over the last 30 days, Dozier has a .792 OPS with four dingers. His slugging reflects a majority of that OPS, but it is still encouraging nonetheless. With his O-swing % at an elite level, and hard hit % at a respectable rate, I would assume Dozier would be quite the replacement for Moose, maybe just not at the All-Star level. And finally number 3) his power numbers are suppressed by Kauffman stadium; he can hit the ball hard, but his ISO will need to rise in accordance to turn his gap power into home-run power, especially at a place like Kauffman.
Photo Credits: Jason Hanna—Getty Images