Two San Francisco Giants Making Rookie of the Year Pushes


We’re coming down to the wire in the Major League season. The non-waiver trade deadline is just days away, and teams have to decide whether they are buyers or sellers. The race for big league awards are starting to come into a clearer focus, and two of the San Francisco Giants‘ rookies are making strong pushes to be in the Rookie of the Year picture.

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Pitcher Chris Heston and third baseman Matt Duffy have become huge pieces for the Giants. They’ve turned spots that were once question marks into exclamation points.

It’s been said time and time again, but it bears repeating: Heston has saved the Giants’ rotation. When injuries left an open spot in the Giants’ front five, Heston got the call. The rookie, who was basically on no one’s radar before the season started, has stepped up and put himself on everyone’s radar.

Heston has become one of the best rookie pitchers in the game. He leads all qualified rookies with 126 innings pitched, a 1.151 WHIP, a 3.14 ERA, 2.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 12 quality starts. His 22 induced groundball double plays are tied for the lead in all of baseball, not just rookies. His 11 wins are five more than any other freshman pitcher, and are the most by a Giants’ rookie since Matt Cain‘s 12 in 2006.

There’s even an argument that Heston has been the best pitcher in the Giants’ rotation, and some of the numbers favor him over Madison Bumgarner. They owns identical 11-5 records, but Heston has a slightly better ERA than Bumgarner’s 3.16. Bumgarner has the edge with a 1.099 WHIP, but Heston has allowed eight less home runs (six to Bumgarner’s 14), and has more one-two-three innings than Bumgarner (47 to 46).

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Just to pile on to Heston’s case, who can forget about the no-hitter he threw when he faced off with Mets’ super-prospect Noah Syndergaard? When Heston held the Mets hitless on June 9th, he became the first Giants’ rookie since Jeff Tesreau in 1912 to accomplish the feat, and the first rookie overall since Clay Buchholz in 2007 to throw a no-hitter. His 11 strikeouts in the game are the third-most in a rookie no-hitter, behind Don Wilson‘s 15 strikeout performance in 1967 and Jim Bibby‘s 13 in 1973.

For Heston to get all those wins, the offense needs to score for him, and another rookie has been keying the offense. Duffy has become a force in the Giants’ lineup, so much that he has been moved to the three-hole, where he has thrived.

Duffy leads all rookies with a .307 average, .472 slugging percentage, and 95 hits. He’s second with 46 RBI, and third with a .347 on-base percentage. He turned the dumpster fire that Casey McGehee left at third base into a non-issue, solidifying the position by improving consistently defensive, and he hasn’t stopped hitting either.

Of course, there’s the guys who lead the race for NL Rookie of the Year. Chicago Cubs’ phenom Kris Bryant looks like the front-runner, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Joc Pederson isn’t far behind him. They both have the hype to back them up, but Duffy has the numbers.

Sure, Pederson and Bryant both have more power than Duffy, with 21 and 13 home runs, respectively, compared to Duffy’s nine. But the metrics say that Duffy has been more valuable. Duffy owns a 3.2 WAR, while Bryant’s is 2.7, and Pederson’s is 2.6.

Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers was a perfect showcase for the Giants’ rookies. Heston hurled seven excellent innings, allowing just a pair of runs on five hits and three walks, along with four strikeouts and three double plays to earn his 11th win. Duffy racked up three hits, including a double, to extend his hitting streak to seven games, while also scoring a run and stealing a base. The two youngsters were instrumental in leading the Giants to a 4-2 win.

Each player has a legitimate case to be the Giants’ seventh Rookie of the Year. Twice before there have been co-Rookies of the Year (1976 in the NL and 1979 in the AL). Maybe these two can become the first teammates to split the award.

Next: Giants to Make Play for Price or Hamels?