The San Francisco Giants most well-known player, Catcher Buster Posey, has been pushed from his normal place in the batting order, by an unknown 24-year old Rookie. With a .308/.340/.435 slash line, Matt Duffy has been a catalyst in a lineup largely lacking in production.
The Giants needed someone to step up this year, after losing Pablo “Panda” Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox via Free Agency, and everyday Rightfielder Hunter Pence has been suffering from injuries for most of the year.
Skeptics point to Duffy’s low walk rate, but he boasts a low strikeout rate to go with it. In 133 games with the Giants this season, Duffy has walked 26 times and struck out 85 times. He uses a high contact approach at the plate, common in the prototypical number two hitter on an MLB team.
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What sets him apart and pushes him to the number three hole is his clutch hitting and run scoring abilities. According to advanced metrics, Duffy has produced 27 runs more than the average MLB player has this season, 17 of which have come either at the plate or on the basepaths. This puts Duffy at a season WAR of 4.6. Most players who produce a WAR of five or better are all-stars.
He sees fastballs well, with a swing and miss rate of 11%. He’s an average performer against breaking balls, and is an avid all-fields hitter. Power tends to fall off when balls are hit the other way or up the middle, which shows Duffy could have more pop if he became a more pull-heavy hitter.
Duffy is speedy for a Corner infielder, he played Shortstop coming up through the minor leagues. The Rookie’s speed makes him adept at beating out ground balls, or stretching a single into a double.
Lacking the power most people would want from a Third Baseman, Duffy has only managed 10 Home Runs, but 26 Doubles and 6 Triples shows he has enough power to play. Cardinals All-Star Matt Carpenter had failed to hit more than 11 Home Runs in a season before this year.
His defense at Short is passable, so were anything to happen to breakout Brandon Crawford he could fill in.
While Duffy has put together an impressive season, and may have a great career ahead of him, it is hard to pick him for ROY. Kris Bryant, stud Third Baseman for the Chicago Cubs, is likely to run away with the war.
Bryant’s 4.7 WAR is led mostly by his bat. He’s produced 26 more runs at the plate than the average player. Despite leading the National League with 181 strikeouts, Bryant has still put together a slash line of .274/.368/.492.
The Cubs phenom has also shown the typical power you would want from someone manning the Corner. He recently hit his 24 Home Run on the year, to go along with 28 doubles and 5 triples.
Although Bryant has shown worse defense at Third, he’s proven to be versatile in the field, even logging time in Centerfield for manager Joe Maddon.
In what’s being called “The Year of The Rookie”, it has been wonderful to see not only Top Prospects called up to the big leagues, but watch the unknown minor leaguer make a name for himself.