MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Tim Anderson bats against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
Tim Anderson bats against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /

In today’s MLB projections, we’ll take a look at 10 players whose chances to win a batting title are stronger than people think.

Who’s the next Tim Anderson? Who’s the next player to come out of relative obscurity to win a batting championship?

When we consider that question, let’s first understand who we’re not talking about. We’re not talking about the usual suspects here. Anderson and National League batting champion Christian Yelich are not under consideration as potential batting champions…because they are the defending batting champions.

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Neither are the small cadre of very obvious contenders, among them Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon, and D J LeMahieu. Could they win a batting title? Obviously yes…and in most cases they already have.

What kinds of traits identify a potential batting champion? While there’s no perfect shopping list, several characteristics are worth looking for. Obviously a solid batting history is a good indicator. But so is youth: batting champions generally identify themselves within their first three or four full seasons.

In terms of skill sets, several stand out. A potential batting champion ought to consistently put the ball in play, so a low strikeout rate is advantageous. For that same reason, plate discipline is a plus …although that’s a characteristic a few recent batting champions pointedly did not deliver. Anderson, the reigning American League batting champ, had a nearly 44 percent chase rate last season.

We want to see hitters who don’t have significant weaknesses, such as the inability to hit a curve or changeup.

Foot speed can be important because it enables a fast runner to beat out hits that slower runners might be retired on. Even more important is exit velocity off the bat. The harder you hit the ball, the less time a fielder has to react and get in front of it.

Related Story. MLB Projections: Top 10 Catchers in 2020. light

Below we’ve identified 10 guys, none of them former batting champions, who possess most of the characteristics that identify a leading hitter. Will any of them beat Yelich, Bellinger, Betts, Trout or Altuve to the top of the batting race this season?

Let’s put it this way: They have a chance.