Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #15 Matt Duffy

Matt Duffy has a career batting average of .282 in his six major league seasons (Ben Garfinkel/Getty Images).

Matt Duffy is #15 on the list of the Keizertimes list of the 20 greatest Volcanoes players of all time. The utility infielder made it to the big leagues in 2014 and has played for the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.

Duffy grew up in Lakewood, Calif. and played his college ball at Long Beach State University from 2010-12. In his first year of collegiate summer ball, Duffy played for the Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League, where he hit .249 in 46 games.

In his three seasons with Long Beach State, Duffy hit .253 and had an on-base percentage (OBP) of .305.

Even though he his was a wizard with his glove, Duffy struggled at the plate at times in college. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Duffy played summer ball in the Cape Cod League with the Orleans Firebirds, where he was able to improve his hitting by incorporating a leg kick and standing further back in the batter’s box.

Duffy still works with his old Firebirds hitting coach Benny Craig during the offseason. Craig also encouraged Duffy to read The Mental Keys to Hitting by Harvey Dorfman — Duffy re-reads the book whenever he is in a slump.

Duffy was drafted by the Giants in the 18th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft and began his pro career with the Volcanoes. He hit .247 with five extra-base hits and 16 RBIs.

Duffy showed improvement with his swing the following season in 2013, starting with the Augusta GreenJackets in full-season A-ball. Duffy batted .302 with the GreenJackets in 78 games and had 43 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. He finished the 2013 season in high A-ball with the San Jose Giants.

In 2014, Duffy advanced to Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, which is where he showed off the incredible strides he had made at the plate. Duffy led the team with a .332 average and also was the squad leader in RBIs (62) OBP (.398) and on-base-plus-slugging (.842).

The Giants took notice of Duffy’s gaudy numbers and called him up to the big leagues on Aug. 1, 2014. Duffy was used as mostly a reserve for the last two months of the regular season, recording 16 hits in 60 at-bats. The Giants, however, placed Duffy on their playoff roster as they made their run to the World Series.

In the 2014 National League Championship Series (NLCS), Duffy scored the tying run in the top of the ninth inning on a wild pitch — the Giants went onto win the game and defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in the series to advance to the World Series.

At age 23, Duffy was the youngest member of the Giants 25-man World Series roster — the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals to win their third championship in six years.

Duffy’s first full professional season came in 2015. He was invited to his first spring training with the Giants and hit .361, which earned him the Barney Nugent Award, which is given to the player in his first Major League camp whose performance best exemplifies the spirit of the club.

While Duffy played throughout the infield early in the season, he became the Giants everyday starting third baseman in late-May.

Duffy batted .295 on the season with 12 homers and 77 RBIs, which were the most by a Giants rookie since 1972. Duffy was given the Willie Mac Award in 2015 — an award in honor of Giants legend Willie McCovey given each year to the team’s most inspirational player — becoming the first rookie in team history to win the award.

Duffy also ended the season as a Gold Glove finalist and finished second in NL Rookie of the year voting to Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs.

On May 7, 2016 Duffy recorded his first walk-off hit, an RBI double in the bottom of the 13th inning to defeat the Colorado Rockies 2-1.

However, Duffy was forced to the disabled list in June due to an injury to his Achilles.

On Aug. 1, 2016, the Giants traded Duffy to Tampa Bay. Duffy appeared in 21 games with the Rays in the 2016 season, but was shut down by the organization in September so he could have Achilles surgery.

The Achilles injury continued to hamper Duffy’s career into the following season. Duffy had multiple complications through the rehab process and was sidelined for the entire 2017 season.

However, Duffy rejoined the squad in 2018 and became the starting third baseman. In his first full season in three years, Duffy proved to be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, batting .294 with a career-high OBP of .361.

But in 2019, Duffy had to endure another injury-shortened season and only played 46 games for Tampa Bay. The Rays released him in November of last year.

Duffy signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in June and is hoping to be back in the Majors in 2021.