The Kansas City Royals have struggled to find consistency in right field. Could Hunter Dozier become the right fielder of the future?
Kansas City Royals fans have seen many different players man right field year after year. Recently it’s been names like Jorge Soler, Jorge Bonifacio, and Ryan McBroom, but in previous years it was the likes of Nori Aoki and Alex Rios handling the duties in right field. Neither of those guys turned into mainstays for the Royals in right.
With Soler having the season he did in 2019, he’s a no brainer to have at designated hitter in most games. He’s a below average defender and his contributions to the Royals are with his bat and the ability to crush the ball out of the park any time he walks up to bat.
So, with Soler at designated hitter, it only made sense for the Royals to move Hunter Dozier to right field. This was a move many thought the Royals might do when Dozier first got to the big leagues due to Mike Moustakas still being on the roster and Dozier having played right field in the minors.
Dozier only played in seven games in right field during his short stint in the bigs in 2016, but he didn’t spend much time in the majors that year.
While the strategy of moving the 2013 first round pick to right field wasn’t implemented when Dozier returned from injury in 2018, it makes sense to move him back to the outfield now. Maikel Franco was signed to be the every day third baseman and that once again meant Dozier would be on the move defensively.
Dozier is coming off his best year offensively for the Kansas City Royals. He batted .279 and hit 26 home runs and plated 84 RBI in 523 at bats. The numbers Dozier put up in 2019 show that he could become a big player for the Royals and hopefully they’ll be able to keep him in Kansas City.
Despite Dozier only having played 29 games in right field during his three major league seasons (really just two, as he was only up for a cup of coffee in 2016), he’s looked good defensively when he has been asked to play in the outfield.
After the 2020 season, Franco might not be in KC anymore, so would the Royals move Dozier back to third base? That’s obviously too soon to know, but if Dozier does well in right field in 2020, the Royals still have Kelvin Gutierrez to play third base.
Keeping Dozier in right field permanently would also depend on how Brett Phillips and/or Bubba Starling progressed in 2020. Both played exceptional defense in the outfield, but weren’t great offensively. If either of them could figure it out offensively, they’d be great to have in the outfield, but even then, they’re both more built to play in center field.
The Royals have a lot of players on their roster who can play multiple positions yet over the years, they’ve been unable to find a true right fielder. Hopefully Hunter Dozier can become the first mainstay at right field for the Kansas City Royals in who knows how long.