Duffy a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year Award

Duffy a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year Award

SAN FRANCISCO -- Being named a finalist Tuesday for the National League Rookie of the Year Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America was merely another step in Matt Duffy's seemingly natural progression.

During Spring Training, he won the Giants' Barney Nugent Award as the player in his first Major League camp who most exemplified the club's spirit. Duffy's .361 Cactus League batting average helped for that.

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Duffy then received the Giants' prestigious Willie Mac Award in balloting consisting mostly of teammates, coaches and the athletic training staff, who regarded the 24-year-old as best combining the character, inspiration and leadership that Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey maintained.

Nearly two weeks ago, Duffy was named a finalist for the NL's Gold Glove Award at third base.

Thus, the news that Duffy is among the NL's top Rookie of the Year candidates along with Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang isn't really news at all. It's further validation of Duffy's season-long excellence. The winner of the award will be announced next Monday at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Duffy didn't just outdo most rookies. His performance compared favorably to those of most veterans. His .366 batting average with runners in scoring position ranked second in the NL behind Nolan Arenado's .373 mark. His 91 hits after the All-Star break trailed only Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips and Arizona's A.J. Pollock (92 apiece) in the league rankings. Moreover, Duffy's 5.5 WAR ranked 10th in the league.

All of this explained why Giants manager Bruce Bochy eventually installed Duffy in the batting order's third slot and left him there.

"I just like the way he battles up there. He's a tough out," Bochy said on more than occasion.

Among rookies, Duffy led the league in hits (169) and multi-hit games (42) while ranking second in RBIs (77), runs (77) and total bases (245). He finished among the NL's top 10 in several other offensive categories, including third in batting average (.295).

Duffy appeared in 149 games -- the most by a Giants rookie since second baseman Robby Thompson totaled the same number in 1986 -- and started San Francisco's final 118 consecutive games.

Duffy would be the seventh Giant to capture a BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award. The previous six were Willie Mays (1951), Orlando Cepeda (1958), Willie McCovey (1959), Gary Matthews (1973), John Montefusco (1975) and Buster Posey (2010).

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.