San Francisco Giants Center Field Expectations Going into Regular Season

By Hiren Patel
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 05: Austin Jackson
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 05: Austin Jackson /
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San Francisco Giants
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Steven Duggar #78 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during a MLB photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Now here’s the guy that has plenty of Giants fans buzzing. Dugger has truly outperformed expectations this spring for a rookie who spent much of last season injured and had only accumulated 54 plate appearances at AAA in 2017.

Nonetheless, here are factors working both for and against Duggar making the opening day roster.

He undoubtedly has the highest ceiling of any of the options discussed in this article, and he could well be the next under-ranked Giants farmhand to break out at the major league level (see: Crawford, Brandon; Panik, Joe; Duffy, Matt).

By all accounts his glove is his best tool, and that’s absolutely key for a center fielder at AT&T Park; however, he’s no slouch with the bat either.

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Throughout his minor league career, his lowest OPS was a .756 as a 21-year old in A-ball. While his power ceiling may be 10 or 12 home runs, he tends to get on base at a high clip, which is always a helpful trait for Giants players.

He’s also been on a relative tear this spring, with a .268 batting average with a .947 OPS (thanks in part to four home runs over 48 plate appearances). If he makes the roster, I fully expect him to control the strong side of the platoon and get his share of at bats at the major league level.

On the other hand, despite being 24-years old, he has minimal experience since being drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. In the three seasons since then, he’s only had 330 plate appearances at or above the AA-level.

Not exactly reassuring when the team needs a starting caliber center fielder.

He also needs to spend a few weeks below the major league level if the Giants want to reduce his service time so he spends an extra season with the team before hitting free agency – a broken rule perhaps, but the Atlanta Braves just did this with their stud prospect, Ronald Acuna, who has crushed spring training pitching.

The Giants could see the win-win scenario at hand of giving Duggar more at bats in the high minors and the opportunity to push back when he hits free agency by giving a veteran the chance to play center field with Austin Jackson until that playing time threshold is passed.

The situation is confusing, and not a great scenario for Duggar, but it’s a means for the team to keep a homegrown player for an extra season under arbitration.

Next: San Francisco Giants Final Week of Spring Training, What we Need to See

PredictionIf the Giants believe they need as much talent as possible on the roster to win as many games as they can this season, they should keep Duggar on the roster as the strong side of the platoon. Blanco’s increased payday (if he makes the roster) also works in Duggar’s favor, if the Giants are value getting under the cap this season more than keeping Duggar for an extra season several years down the road.

Chances of Making Roster: 35%