Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant have garnered most of the Rookie of the Year buzz in the National League. However, San Francisco Giants third baseman, Matt Duffy, must also be taken into consideration.
Duffy might not be as recognizable to the average baseball fan because he doesn’t display the raw power of Pederson and Bryant. However, the 24-year-old has been one of baseball’s best surprises this season. He has terrorized National League pitching, and has turned the heads of many in the MLB world.
This type of production wasn’t expected by someone who wasn’t considered a top MLB prospect. Duffy was ranked as the 17th best minor league in the Giants system at the onset of the 2014 season. It’s unlikely that San Francisco felt he was going to progress into one of the team’s main contributors, but since his debut at the major league level he has done just that.
Duffy first appeared for the Giants at the tail end of the 2014 season. But, it’s his 2015 campaign that has been the true breakout year. Over the course of the season, Duffy has hit .307 through 309 at-bats.
His batting average places him well ahead of Bryant, who possess the second highest of all National League rookies hitting .253. That’s a very distinctive advantage for Duffy, who holds a significant lead in one other important category as well. While Bryant has produced home runs and RBI’s, Duffy is the only National League rookie with a WAR above 3. With the increased value of analytical statistics being placed on the these awards, a higher Wins Above Replacement will almost assuredly be a contributing factor to determining a winner.
Duffy has at least one supporter for a Rookie of the Year vote in Giants General Manager, Bobby Evans. He stated in an interview that his starting third baseman has defied team expectations.
“It’s just a huge progression for him, a very quick progression. Those are tremendous accomplishments that are not easy for any major-league player to accomplish in a short period of time – especially somebody who didn’t come up through the system as a third baseman, and didn’t come up necessarily as a guy who profiled in the middle of the order. He’s done a great job.”
Can Matt Duffy win the N.L. Rookie of the Year? Yes. Will he win Rookie of the Year?
That remains to be seen. Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson have run away with the award in many fans minds. But, given the Giants impressive record, and Duffy’s inspired play, it’s certainly worth consideration. He might not have the exposure of his competition in Chicago and Los Angeles, but he certainly has the skill.