Fans are warned time and again at the dawn of a new season to not put too much stock in a small sample size. This is obviously true for San Francisco Giants fans as well.
That said, good things will happen if San Francisco Giants center fielder Steven Duggar keeps hitting the ball hard.
The 25-year-old is batting a rather inconspicuous .250/.318/.350 through the team’s first five games, and he’s struck out nine times in 22 plate appearances.
So why in the world are we taking the time to highlight him?
When he has put the bat on the ball, the result has been a 54.6 percent hard-contact rate, which is good for 27th among all qualified hitters, according to FanGraphs.
By comparison, his hard-contract rate all of last season was just 29.6 percent. That was tied for 327th among the 392 players who tallied at least 150 plate appearances during the 2018 season.
Again, we’re talking about an extremely small sample size. The fact that he’s consistently hitting the ball hard—at least when he does make contact—is still as good a sign as any that a breakthrough could be right around the corner.
He was 2-for-5 with a run scored in the team’s 4-2 victory over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, raising his average 50 points in the process. Could that be the start?
After posting an excellent .333/.396/.438 line in 53 plate appearances during spring training, Duggar was already one to watch heading into the season.
The Giants are severely lacking in young position players capable of emerging as long-term pieces to build around, and their shortcomings in the outfield have been well documented.
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If Duggar can take a step forward in his first full season in the majors to establish himself as the center fielder of the present and future, it would go a long way.
Before that can happen, his strikeout rate will need to improve.