SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants third baseman Matt Duffy left the distinct impression last season that he was fully prepared to take his career to greater heights.
It wasn't just what Duffy did that commanded attention. It was the way he performed in his first full Major League season that proved impressive.
During most of his 612 plate appearances, Duffy seemed to take at least one good swing. That's difficult to accomplish, considering the plethora of deliveries Major League pitchers employ. Fastballs are overpowering; offspeed pitches prompt confusion. None of this fazed Duffy, who finished second to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in balloting for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford explained that Duffy's methods in the batter's box almost inoculate him from dreaded slumps. This suggests that Duffy, 25, can eclipse the .295 batting average, 12 home runs and 77 RBIs that he accumulated a year ago.
"I think with his swing, it's not really going to matter a whole lot who's pitching and what they're throwing, because he has such a balanced approach and flat swing," Crawford said. "If guys start going offspeed, he'll be able to adjust pretty easily and stay up the middle. Fastballs in, he can turn on it; fastballs away, he does a really good job of shooting it the other way. With his swing, there's not really a whole lot of adjustment."
Duffy remains extremely conscious of what he does at the plate. He's not one to take thoughtless, restless hacks.
"I try to make most of my swings my best, my 'A' swing," he said. "It's never going to be perfect, by any means. With two strikes, I'll choke up a tiny bit to make it a little quicker and shorter."
Consider Duffy ahead of the curve (or fastball, or slider) when it comes to adjusting to pitchers. A proficient hitter such as Duffy can expect to see variations in pitches or patterns as opponents try to neutralize him. But Duffy won't be caught by surprise. He noticed as early as last July that pitchers had begun altering their strategy toward him.
"It's a constant adjustment and adjust back," Duffy said. "They make an adjustment, and once they see I've adjusted, they go back to something else. It's constant. I like to think that I'm in tune to what other teams are doing to me."
To stay in tune, Duffy indulges in the routine that most hitters follow. He talks to hitting coaches and watches video. But, he said, he particularly benefits from self-analysis. As Duffy observed, it has to be this way.
"I kind of like to do more reflecting on my own without video," Duffy said. "Because in the middle of an at-bat, I can't go, 'Wait, hold on, let me run to the video room to see how you're attacking me.' I have to be able to recognize that stuff without the help of anybody else."