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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(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

8. Hanser Alberto, Baltimore Orioles

The 27-year-old Orioles second baseman has several attractive qualities that make him a potential 2020 batting champion. He also has several obvious shortcomings that can obstruct that effort.

That makes his possibly the most polarized profile on this list.

Begin with the negatives, chase rate being the biggest. In 2019, Hanser Alberto fished for pitches off the plate 44 percent of the time, a damningly high percentage. What modified the impact of that liberal swing rate was his equally extraordinary 76 percent chase contact rate. In short, Alberto is comfortable living off the edges.

The other element he doesn’t provide is exit velocity. Alberto only averaged 82.8 mph off the bat in 2019, giving infielders that extra split second to get in the path of his potential hits.

On the plus side, Alberto doesn’t let lack of discipline hinder his contact. He fanned in only 9.1 percent of his plate appearances in 2019, a contact rate that identifies him as a constant threat. He’s also dynamite at handling velocity changes, with a .347 batting average against fastballs and a .299 average against offspeed stuff.

Those numbers led him to a .305 batting average last season, ranking an extremely quiet eighth in the American League. You can make the argument that Alberto’s breakthrough amounted to somebody finally giving him a chance. During parts of three previous seasons with the Texas Rangers, he had never gotten more than 104 plate appearances.

Alberto’s chase rate and exit velocity are both disconcertingly ordinary for a potential batting champion. But his age, that .305 average and his potential for growth create a window.