Steven Duggar

Giants Review: Steven Duggar looks ready for everyday shot in center

Giants Review: Steven Duggar looks ready for everyday shot in center

SAN FRANCISCO — When Steven Duggar was sent to Triple-A at the end of the spring, he wasn’t the only one to be disappointed. Some of the Giants' veteran starting pitchers had hoped to have Duggar’s glove behind them in center field.

Duggar did finally make it up in July, and he certainly showed that he can be a defensive game-changer for the Giants. The bat is a work in progress, but he made real strides in his final few games.

Unfortunately, that’s when he got hurt. Duggar ended up having shoulder surgery, and even a few weeks after his season ended, Giants manager Bruce Bochy still was bummed about how it all went down. 

“My biggest disappointment in all this was Duggar,” Bochy said. “He was really coming around. It’s a shame we lost him, but in the short evaluation, I think we saw the difference he made out in the outfield in center field and what his potential is with the bat.”

What went right

From the start, Steven Duggar was Steven Doubles. He led the PCL with 27 of them at the time of his promotion, and then became the first Giant to hit five doubles in his first five games.

Overall, Duggar had a .253/.303/.390 slash line with 11 doubles and two homers, but as Bochy said, he was really starting to come around at the end. His numbers ticked up in August, and he had six hits in 18 at-bats on his final homestand. Members of the staff felt Duggar was poised to be the lineup’s best player in September, given the injuries and trades elsewhere. 

Defensively, Duggar gives the Giants their first above-average center fielder in years. He was worth four Defensive Runs Saved in limited time and had several highlight plays out in center. He also did all the little things well, cutting off balls in the gap and throwing to the right bases. 

What went wrong

The overall numbers at the plate were below league-average, and like many young Giants, Duggar struck out a lot. He had 44 strikeouts in 141 at-bats, and if he’s to make it to the top of the order, as the Giants hope, he’ll need to do much better than that .303 on-base percentage. 

The injury was a killer. Duggar tore his labrum while diving back into second base on Aug. 28 and required surgery. The Giants expect him to be fine in time to compete for an Opening Day starting job, but shoulders can be tricky, and at the very least, it cost him a month’s worth of big league reps.

Contract status

Duggar has all of his minor league options remaining.

The future

There was a silver lining to that injury. Duggar stayed in the game and scored the winning run after he was hurt, showing some toughness and edge that the staff noticed throughout his time in the big leagues. He’ll need to show improvement at the plate, but in theory, he’s a perfect hitter for AT&T Park, and he should pile up hustle doubles and triples when he hits his groove.

Duggar's glove alone should have him in the Opening Day lineup next year. Just ask Madison Bumgarner.

“Me personally, I don’t care if he ever gets a hit,” Bumgarner said of Duggar. “I love him in center field, and anything else he does is a positive. So that’s how I feel about it.”

Giants believe Steven Duggar could end long-running center field saga

duggarus.jpg
USATSI

Giants believe Steven Duggar could end long-running center field saga

SAN FRANCISCO -- The four-year contract given to Angel Pagan was a disaster. The Denard Span partnership lasted just two seasons before his salary was dumped in a trade for Evan Longoria. Austin Jackson didn't even make it to his first All-Star break as a Giant. 

The Giants have had no success when seeking veterans to play center field.

Luckily for them, they don't have to dip into that market this offseason. Steven Duggar's rookie season was promising, and although it ended with shoulder surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said the rookie showed enough that he's comfortable penciling him in as his Opening Day center fielder for 2019. 

"Obviously it's going to be competitive as always, but I think you look at what he does defensively, and the kid, you know what, he's got something there that you love," Bochy said. "He can adapt. He can adjust, and he showed that up here."

That "something" often is hard to quantify, but the Giants love Duggar's makeup, the toughness he showed while staying on the field to score the winning run after his shoulder popped out, the competitiveness they saw on a daily basis as he worked to get better, the chip that was on his shoulder despite plenty of hype from the start of spring training. 

Then there's what they saw on the field.

Duggar, 24, batted just .255 with a .693 OPS, but he was starting to heat up when he got hurt diving back into second base. On his final homestand, Duggar was 6 for 18 with a homer and a triple, and he played the kind of center field defense that the Giants have sought for years.

After Duggar's final game, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner said he didn't care if the young outfielder never gets a hit -- he just wants Duggar's glove behind him. Executive Brian Sabean said Duggar might have finished the season as the lineup's best player had he not been hurt. 

"There were a lot of flashes of excitement," Sabean said. "That's what you're looking for."

There was sadness, too. Bochy said his biggest disappointment late in the year was watching Duggar go down. 

"He was really coming around," Bochy said. "It's a shame we lost him, but in the short evaluation, I think we saw the difference he made out in the outfield in center field and what his potential is with the bat."

The Giants believe they have a keeper, and even though Duggar has played just 41 games, he already has accomplished something very important for the organization. He'll keep the Giants from trying out another expensive veteran in center field. 

Giants notes: Ryder Jones the latest youngster to need season-ending surgery

Giants notes: Ryder Jones the latest youngster to need season-ending surgery

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy has tried to mix and match veterans with rookies the past couple of weeks. He doesn’t wants to throw out a Triple-A lineup against teams that are competing for postseason spots. 

At some point, though, the Giants will turn it over to the youth for a game or two. Bochy said there’s a good chance he puts all the rookies together for games that don’t matter as much — think the two series against the Padres — but he also continues to lose options for young lineups. 

Steven Duggar had season-ending shoulder surgery last week and Ryder Jones will have season-ending knee surgery this week. Jones had an MRI on Monday that showed his dislocated left knee needs to be repaired. He was hurt taking a swing Sunday in Milwaukee. 

“He was excited about getting some playing time,” Bochy said. “It’s tough for these guys when this happens. This is a setback, but you’ve got to deal with it.”

Duggar had shown enough to go into next season as the opening day center fielder. Jones was hoping to show he’s a strong candidate for a bench spot, but he’ll now have to have a huge spring. The silver lining? Youth is still on his side. Jones, who hit two long homers in eight at-bats this season, won’t turn 25 until next summer. He still is a year younger than most of the rookies who have made an impact this season. 

--- Bochy had Chris Shaw on the bench Sunday but nearly gave him a start against a lefty on Monday. However, Sean Newcomb holds lefties to a .186 batting average. Shaw will be in the lineup Tuesday against hard-throwing righty Mike Foltynewicz. 

--- The Braves come in at 79-64 and atop the NL East. This was supposed to be another rebuilding year for them, but they found two young superstars in Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. Albies, the 21-year-old second baseman, has 22 homers. Acuna, just 20, has 25 homers in 92 big league games. 

“When you play these guys you understand why they are where they are,” Bochy said of the Braves. “Especially with these two young kids.”

The Giants did sweep the Braves in Atlanta in May. That might have been the high point of the season. 

--- The Giants have lost eight straight. They haven’t lost nine straight since July 23-Aug. 1, 2006.