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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Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

4. Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays

The 25-year-old Rays outfielder is coming off his first full major league season, one in which he showed promise of contending for a lot of honors.

Austin Meadows’ .291 batting average certainly left room for growth. But many of the peripherals are to-die-for. Begin with 90.4 mph exit velocity of his contacts, which at his young age already ranks among the game’s top one-quarter.

You can say the same for his 42.9 hard-hit percentage. That ranks barely outside the top quarter.

Meadows combines that solid contact with a discerning eye. He fished out of the zone only 24.7 percent of the time in 2019, a strong showing for a second-year player. He’s also fast out of the box, with a 28.1 feet per second sprint speed that allows him to go home-to-first in a hair above three seconds. That’s also top quarter.

Where Meadows has room to grow is in his comfort level against breaking stuff. He batted .311 against heat in 2019 and .333 against offspeed, but just .237 when a pitcher tried to hook him.

His chances of markedly improving his average in 2020, then, hinge on his ability to adapt to the breaking stuff.

Assuming, as seems likely, that Meadows holds down right field in Tampa and bats at or near the top of the order, he should get plenty of opportunities to make a run at the batting crown.