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.
Duggar has all of his minor league options remaining.
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.”