Prior to this season, the San Francisco Giants had set high expectations for outfielder Steven Duggar.
He started the year in Triple-A, but did not post eye-popping stats with Sacramento. However, he got called up two weeks ago, and his first impression has been promising.
With Duggar, the defense is his strength. We have seen the plays from Triple-A where he looks like Superman trying to catch a ball. So, when he got called up, defense was not a concern. Sure, there may have been questions about whether he could handle the endless outfield grass at AT&T Park.
However, he is proving that he can. His range, read, speed, and instincts look like something we have not seen from a San Francisco Giants outfielders in years. And, the stats agree. His defense has been worth 1 defensive run saved (DRS).
That is neither great nor terrible. Statistically, it is a huge improvement over what we have seen in recent seasons. So, it should be viewed in that context. Also, defensive metrics for small samples are kind of wonky. However, he passes the eye test with the glove.
The biggest question was always going to be Duggar’s bat. He posted a .272/.317/.379 slash line with a 28.9 percent strikeout rate in Sacramento. These are solid, but not eye-popping numbers, in the hitter-friendly PCL.
Regardless, using Minor League numbers to project Major League performance is an inexact science. The red flag is the extremely high strike out rate. And, that rate has grown to 31 percent since being called up. The good news is his strike out rate is only at 22 percent over his last six games. Aren’t small samples fun?
Beyond the strikeout rate, much of Duggar’s Triple-A offensive production has carried over to his Major League stat line. In 70 plate appearances, Duggar has posted a .254/.314/.349 slash line. That is good for a .663 OPS.
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These are the type of numbers you would expect from Duggar. He has a good hit tool, and makes things happen when he puts the ball in play. However, putting the ball in play is not happening with nearly enough frequency. Though, it does not feel as if he is overwhelmed by Major League pitching.
He is showing patience at the plate. And, this is a good thing. Duggar never looks like he is in a rush to leave the batter’s box. He has an approach, and sees a lot of pitches. Of course, being patient has its downside as well. Duggar has had 42 plate appearances in 2-strike counts, and is batting .128 in these situations. Most non-Tony Gwynn hitters do not hit well in 2-strike counts.
The goods news with being patient is making the pitcher throw extra pitchers and working walks. With Duggar’s speed, getting on base will be key to his value. He can go from 1st base to 3rd base on a single, or steal an occasional base. Whether it is a hit or a walk, getting on base will be key.
He has worked 6 walks so far. And, 5 of those have come in his last 6 games. His patience and selectivity are starting to pay off. As a result, we should start to see his OBP climb.
In addition to this, Duggar is seeing 4.32 pitchers per plate appearance. This is what you want to see from a leadoff hitter. If he qualified, Duggar would lead the league in that category. Many San Francisco Giants prospects are aggressive at the plate. So, it is refreshing to see him demonstrate a little patience.
Duggar has looked okay in his 1st taste of the Big Leagues. His defense has been as advertised. His bat shows promise, and some red flags as well. The bat will need some time to develop. And, if can cut down on his strike out rate, he could turn into a good player.