It’s pretty terrifying to think about where the Chicago Cubs might be without Matt Duffy. Even with him, the team entered this week’s four-game set against Washington below .500 and haven’t looked like a legitimate contender by any stretch.
He’s not a star-caliber player. He more reminds me of a former favorite Cub of mine, Reed Johnson, who just did a lot of little things right that wound up impacting the team, as a whole. Specifically for Duffy, it’s his contact-based approach at the dish that’s proving valuable for Chicago.
"“The contact just went through the roof in general since Duff’s been in the lineup,” Cubs skipper David Ross told MLB.com. “The singles have played a lot more into driving guys in and having success. … His approach, his professionalism in the box is contagious for our group. There’s no doubt about that.”"
Over the last week, Duffy is batting .273/.333/.455. But if you dive into the metrics, you see why this guy could end up being a key piece on a postseason team come October (which, clearly, I don’t think the Cubs – as currently constructed – are).
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
He ranks in the 98th percentile for whiff rate, 95th for chase rate and 91st in xBA. This isn’t something new, either. Duffy has always been a big contact guy – while limiting punchouts and drawing his fair share of walks. In today’s game that’s overrun by three true outcome hitters, there are few things that change up the look and feel of a lineup like a bat such as this.
Cubs need to think past 2021 and look to trade Matt Duffy
Duffy is exactly the type of player I want on the Cubs. The only problem is this team isn’t going anywhere given its many obvious flaws. Next year could be a different story and, with Duffy on a minuscule one-year, $1 million deal, there’s no reason to hang onto him for the rest of 2021.
Instead, the front office needs to start calling teams that look like they’re destined for October and gauge their interest in Duffy. He has a lot of intangibles that seem to really come through late in the year and can help level out streaky offenses by slowing the game down and working at-bats.
Maybe I’m totally in the wrong here and Duffy belongs on the Cubs. But if we’re thinking about turning this thing over as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s on Jed Hoyer to strike while the iron’s hot – and I don’t see it getting much hotter when it comes to the veteran utilityman.