San Francisco Giants outfielder Steven Duggar recently landed on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. Will his roster spot be waiting for him when he returns?
With the way Alex Dickerson is slugging the ball and the San Francisco Giants plethora of outfielders, there’s no guarantee that Steven Duggar will have a roster spot waiting for him when he returns from the injured list.
Duggar, 25, began the 2019 season as the Giants starting center fielder after making his MLB debut down the stretch in 2008. He hit a respectable .255/.303/.390 over 41 games in his 2018 audition, and after a solid spring training performance, hopes were high for his first full season in the majors.
However, rather than taking another step forward, Duggar has regressed.
He was hitting just .234/.277/.343 in 267 plate appearances at the time of his injury, and his production had bottomed out in the month of June with a .195/.233/.317 line in 43 trips to the plate.
For a Giants team that has been searching for offensive production all season, Duggar has been one of the least productive bats in the lineup.
That begs the question: When Duggar’s time on the injured list is up, who gets sent down to Triple-A?
Alex Dickerson has been a revelation since being promoted to fill Duggar’s spot on the roster. He’s gone 5-for-12 with two doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBI in his first three games in a San Francisco Giants uniform. Unless things go south quickly, it’s hard to see him being sent back down to the minors when he’s swinging the hottest bat on the team.
It seems that the player that makes the most sense to be moved down when Duggar returns, is the Duggar himself.
Aside from the emergence of Dickerson, Kevin Pillar has also stepped up his play of late. He has moved back to center field defensively and has broken out of his funk offensively, hitting .316/.325/.566 with four home runs during the month of June. He now leads the team in hits, home runs and RBI on the year.
Rookie Mike Yastrzemski is now the primary right fielder, and he too has made some noise at the plate, hitting three home runs in his last five games. The 28-year-old has a respectable 97 OPS+ in 94 plate appearances since making his MLB debut on May 25.
There’s no question that Duggar is an asset defensively. He currently ranks in the 94th percentile in outs above average per Baseball Savant, and there’s little question he passes the eye test in center field.
However, his offensive struggles have negated any value that his glove provides.
Among the 149 players who have recorded at least 250 plate appearances this season, Duggar ranks 144th with a 64 wRC+.
With minor league options remaining, Duggar stands to benefit from a move down to Triple-A where he would have a chance to get his head on straight offensively. More importantly, it won’t disrupt the current Giants outfield, which has been a welcome source of production for the offensively challenged club of late.
With Tyler Austin serving as the rotational fourth outfielder and a platooning first baseman against left-handed pitching, the Giants are probably going to stick to their script of having three true outfielders on the active roster. That leaves someone as the odd man out, and if the recent moves made by the front office are any indication, offensive value is carrying an increasing amount of weight.
There’s a good chance then that Steven Duggar will find himself at Triple-A Sacramento during the month of July, and if he’s not able to keep up with the likes of Mike Gerber and Austin Slater, the San Francisco Giants front office will have some interesting decisions to make when it comes to the outfield of the near future.