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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Boston infielder Rafael Devers (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Boston infielder Rafael Devers (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

5. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

It would surprise few – and nobody in Boston –if Rafael Devers made a serious run at the 2020 American League batting championship.

After all, he batted .311 as a 22-year-old in his second full season in 2019. That tied for fourth-best in the American League, and it got him some MVP votes.

Since there is no particular reason to assume that Devers will regress in 2020, he’s a contender.

There are drawbacks. Devers fanned 119 times in 2019, a 16.9 percent no-contact rate that is distressingly high for a batting titlist. He coupled that with a 37.5 percent chase rate (cause and effect?) that is also troubling.

But those things can be overcome. Tim Anderson, the 2019 batting champion, had a 21 percent no-contact rate and a 43.7 percent chase rate in 2019.

Beyond that, before lingering on Devers’ weaknesses it would be wise to consider his assets. When he did make contact, the ball came off Devers’ bat at 92.1 mph in 2019, the 14th best average exit velocity in all of MLB.

light. Related Story. MLB Projections: Top 10 Shortstops for the 2020 Season

Beyond that tendency to fish, he also has few plate weaknesses. He hit .304 against fastballs in 2019, and .289 against breaking stuff. Go offspeed on him? Don’t you dare. Devers hit .381 against changeups.

His 47.5 hard-hit percentage ranked in the 91st percentile of performance. That means Devers squared up his contacts at a rate of nearly one-in-two.