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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Angels infielder David Fletcher. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Angels infielder David Fletcher. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

10. David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels

David Fletcher is a 26-year-old middle infielder who hit .290 in his first full season for the Angels. He’s presently listed as a backup at second, short and third, but he did start 145 games in 2019 and shouldn’t be expected to surrender that status easily.

Fletcher’s 9.8 percent strikeout rate labels him as a sold contact hitter, a vital trait in any batting champion. He coupled that with uncommonly strong plate judgment in 2019, registering only a 22.5 percent chase rate.

Fletcher, in other words, makes a pitcher deliver Fletcher’s pitch rather than chasing the pitcher’s pitch.

He batted .319 against fastballs in 2019, a 30 percentage point jump from his 2018 debut season. He also substantially improved his average against offspeed stuff, from .222 in 2018 to .333 in 2019.

Fletcher has shown the ability to take the ball where it’s pitched. That forces opponents to play him straight up; Fletcher faced shifts only 2 percent of the time in 2019.

There are downsides. Fletcher’s 83.7 mph average exit velocity doesn’t mark him as a hard hitter, and it’s no secret to say that  the harder the ball comes off your bat, the better chance it has of missing a fielder.

Nor is Fletcher a strong candidate to pile up a lot of scratch hits. His 27.6 foot per second sprint speed is, by major league standards, only average.

Still, he’s the kind of player new Angels manager Joe Maddon should love.