Hunter Dozier’s professional baseball career has been a bit of a roller coaster. He was the 39th ranked prospect on Baseball America’s draft board but the Royals took him at #8 in a move that surprised virtually everybody.
While he wasn’t the same caliber prospect as a Austin Meadows or Phillip Bickford, who were the next two picks, he was a 21-year-old who could hypothetically move up the ranks quickly and replace the major bust that was Mike Moustakas.
He played the part early on, slashing .308/.391/.458 over his first 135 games as a professional, which wasn’t super surprising given his age. Then the wheels fell off in 2014 and 2015 and injuries blocked him from progressing in 2017.
That led us to 2018, when the hapless Royals brought up Dozier and his .339 SLG% at Omaha to get his first real Major League cup of coffee. And he has struggled, as many expected, coming into tonight’s action with a 64 wRC+ and a -1.0fWAR. There haven’t been a whole lot of column inches used to evaluate Dozier and why he has not lived up to his billing.
While he wasn't a mega-prospect, he was a physical specimen with a ton of athleticism and a good feel at the plate. Back in 2015, he came into spring training with a loftier swing path, which the Royals naturally axed. That sounds a whole lot like what is going on in this quote tweet and its mother tweet and might explain some of his issues.
However, that doesn’t account for his breakout 2016 season at Omaha or why his hit tool fell off a cliff from 2014 to 2018. If I had to put money on the problem, I would put it on a Royals organization that has no ability to develop hitters. But then, I started digging deeper, and I found what might be the real problem.
Since the 1980’s, no player has worn just one batting glove and been a good Major League Baseball player.
Hunter Dozier only wears one batting glove.
Now, this research is still in the early stages, so I don’t want to make any rash assumptions. The one batting glove look was a notable fad in the 1970’s and my original copy claimed that no player since then had ever been good with that look. But then I remembered this old photo, captured in 1980, of George Brett standing on second base after reaching the .401 mark on July 29th against the Blue Jays.
You can clearly see that Brett is indeed wearing just one batting glove, so I had to adjust my data to account for it.
With that being said, the days of single batting gloves are long gone, and with good reason. It is a really bad look. How much lamer would Barry Bonds have been had he wore one stupid batting glove on his right hand instead of a king’s lot of body armor? What unwritten rules would Moises Alou have broken had he worn one batting glove on his left hand rather than urinating on both of them before the game?
It is clear that single batting gloves were a prehistoric ritual in an incredibly progressive sport, so they had to go. Dozier, however, refuses to change and you have to wonder if it has contributed to his struggles. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this shocking chart.
Not only is there evidence that wearing one batting glove is bad, but there is also sufficient evidence that wearing two batting gloves or no batting gloves significantly contributes to success.
Let’s look at Matt Carpenter, for instance. Since May 15, Carpenter has hit 31 home runs with a whopping .444 wOBA, all without batting gloves. On the other side of the spectrum, Mike Trout has accumulated a ridiculous 62.6 fWAR since 2011, all while wearing two batting gloves.
Then there are players that do both. Royals fans probably remember that Kendrys Morales regularly went without batting gloves but would break them out when slumping or when it was cold. But he would never wear just one. He either wore batting gloves or he went without.
Perhaps that is the bigger issue at hand. Players like Evan Gattis, Prince Fielder, and others have said that they don’t wear batting gloves because they feel the bat better, while players who wear gloves typically do so to improve comfort and bat control. The baseball gods could look at have one hand gloved and one hand free as trying to double dip on privileges.
If that were true and if the baseball gods take issue with one batting glove players, then it would make sense that the only team who can seemingly cheat the system is the Giants.
Noted for their “even-year magic,” the Giants are home to two of the three remaining one-glove players in the league: Hunter Pence and Madison Bumgarner. I don’t really count Pence, because wearing a single batting glove with lizard gripped bat is like wearing batting gloves after urinating on your hands. Pence is a fraud. And it’s finally catching up to him and the Giants.
This is all, of course, speculation. There has been no evidence that the Giants are tampering with sorcery. And even if they are, that does nothing to help Hunter. We all want Hunter to succeed, or at the very least, distance himself as much as he can from the likes of Bumgarner.
If I believe anything, it is that numbers never lie and the numbers behind wearing one batting glove are staggering. Let’s just hope that the next time Dozier wanders over to his locker, he grabs that lonely right-hand batting glove and puts it to work.