Matt Duffy Wins Giants’ Willie Mac Award


With the San Francisco Giants set to embark on their final series of the season against the Colorado Rockies, the team handed out the Willie Mac Award, an honor given out annually to the a player best exemplifying the spirit and leadership shown by Willie McCovey, for whom the award is named, during his playing career. As voted on by his teammates and coaches, the 2015 Willie Mac recipient is third baseman Matt Duffy.

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With numerous former winners in attendance, including J.T. Snow, Jack Clark, Bengie Molina, and Mike Felder, as well as McCovey himself, broadcaster Mike Krukow announced that Duffy is the first Giants’ rookie to win the award since its inception in 1980. Duffy joins the five former winners currently on the Giants’ roster: Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey. Duffy is also just the second primary third baseman to win the award, after David Bell in 2002.

Duffy’s story in 2015 has been inspirational, and is part of the reason he was awarded with one of the highest honors his teammates could bestow upon him. It took an outstanding Spring Training just for Duffy to make the Giants’ opening day roster as the utility infielder. He started to get regular starts at third base about a month into the season, as starter Casey McGehee struggled mightily upon his first foray with his new team.

Duffy took the job and ran with it, and never gave McGehee the chance to earn it back. He started as the eighth hitter in the Giants’ lineup, and gradually moved up in the lineup until he settled in as the third place hitter, where he has excelled in recent months.

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Duffy is having an incredible rookie season, and in any other year, he would likely be the runaway Rookie of the Year award winner as well. Unfortunately, he is a rookie the same year as Kris Bryant, who will almost assuredly win the award after the year ends.

Even under that circumstance, the impact that Duffy has had on the Giants’ lineup is undeniable. Entering play on Friday night, Duffy owns a .298 average, .337 on-base percentage, and .433 slugging percentage. He has hit 28 doubles, six triples, and 12 home runs, driven 76 runs (the most by a Giants’ rookie since Chili Davis in 1982), and scored 77 times. He has stolen 12 bases and not been caught a single time, which stands to be a Giants’ team record for most steals without being caught in a season.

While injuries have been the name of the game for the Giants this year, Duffy has been incredibly durable in his rookie season. He has started 77 consecutive games (including Friday with Colorado), and has appeared in 116 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in baseball, behind the Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado at 159 games, and the Los Angeles Angels’ Kole Calhoun at 150 games.

In his speech, Duffy thanked his teammates and family, as well as his coaches, who he said “taught me if you put in the time and preparation, good things will come.” To the ire of many Giants’ fans on Twitter, Duffy did not mention his cat, Skeeter.

To conclude his speech, Duffy thanked the fans, saying “the energy you bring to the park is unbelievable. This award means a lot to me and I can’t thank you enough.”

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