Matt Duffy Is The Long-Term Answer At Third Base


For the San Francisco Giants, what seemed to be a difficult start out the 2015 season, has gotten a bit easier as of late, thanks to help from some unexpected places. Matt Duffy is one of those unexpected contributors, and many believe that if he maintains his confidence, he can be the every day third baseman the Giants have been looking for ever since Pablo Sandoval left as a free agent.

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Given what Sandoval brought to the organization, it is difficult to bash the guy for leaving. As the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, Sandoval did an amazing job against a Cy Young winner and ace at the top of his game in Justin Verlander.

That series, and in particular, his efforts against Verlander, are what established Sandoval in the hearts of San Francisco and all Giants fans.

Bolting for Boston, hatred and disgust grew as to why the “Kung Fu Panda” would leave after what the team had accomplished over the last five seasons. What appeared to be a potential dynasty in the making, it seems the stacks of Benjamin’s and a “new challenge” according to Sandoval himself is what sparked the departure.

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Casey McGehee came to town shortly after the Red Sox inked Sandoval to a lucrative deal for a guy who is playoff gold. Only thing though, Red Sox have to make the playoffs to reap those rewards.

McGehee struggled and found himself stuck in Sacramento after a demotion, hoping to regain some life with the bat. Fresh out of the Japanese League, McGehee posted a resurgent offensive campaign in 2014 with the Miami Marlins. The only problem, his batting and run production did not follow him to San Francisco.

With no Sandoval and an ineffective McGehee, they were out of options. When Joaquin Arias takes the field on the limited days he does, he is Mr. Unreliable, whether it be with the bat or the glove.

With Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik looking like they will nail down the middle infield spots for many years to come, Duffy was left without a position, his playing time limited to spot starts here and there, and pinch-hitting duties. And with no real third baseman to speak of, the Giants had little choice but to give Duffy a shot at third.

Jun 28, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy (5) hits a double during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Coming up to the big leagues just like Panik in 2014, both lent a spark to the offense and made some dazzling plays in the field to give the Giants a boost.

2015 so far, has been magical for Duffy and a Giants team that has continually needed answers.

When a player has gone down to injury, we have seen guys such as Nori Aoki, Justin Maxwell, and Chris Heston fill in the voids and perform at a high level.

Inconsistency forced McGehee down, but that opened the door for Duffy.

There is not much more that the Giants can ask for from the former Long Beach State product, as he has become another home grown success. Through 64 games, Duffy is batting .303, with eight home runs, and 37 RBI’s. He’s also belted 11 doubles, three triples, and has an OPS of .840.

Pop in the bat has not been an issue this year as he is on pace to hit 17 home runs according to ESPN.

As a bonus, he is also beating Sandoval in multiple categories, including defense. A struggle for Sandoval could have been predictable, but who would’ve thought Duffy would have adapted to third base as he has, and performed as one of the best third baseman in 2015?

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  • Lately, Duffy has found himself hitting in run production spots in the lineup, often batting right before Buster Posey. In the most recent weekend series against the Colorado Rockies, Duffy came up short of the cycle by one hit in back-to-back games. If it weren’t for the brilliance of another outstanding third baseman in that series — and in all of baseball — Nolan Arenado, Duffy would have locked up the National League Player of the week.

    Duffy is the name that has been under the radar, but is beginning to emerge. All baseball can think of is Matt Carpenter, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson. Not to downplay the greatness of those players — because they do deserve credit — Duffy has forced his name into discussions that many analysts around the league have left him out of.

    While it has seemed easy to panic and blame 2015 as another cursed odd year according to the even-year dynasty talked about by many Giants’ fans, Duffy and others have come to the rescue — and their solid play diminishes their chances of being trade pieces in the future.

    No longer a utility man, Duffy has earned his spot at third and has made the jobs for many in San Francisco a lot simpler and less stressful — as with the recent rotation issues.

    What has been an up and down year, can now be looked at positively and fans should enjoy the ride while it lasts. Duffy could continue this hot hitting or he could go ice cold. Fans will just have to wait to see how it all plays out. Panda hats have gone extinct, but there may be a new hot commodity and collectible in San Francisco — the Duff can.

    Get this guy an All-Star spot already!

    Next: Giants Forced to Shuffle Minor League Rosters