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Community Projection Review: Chris Duffy

Here's our community projection for Chris Duffy, along with the results:

Community .278/.331/.395
ZiPS .287/.338/.384
Actual .255/.317/.338

Among individual prognosticators, Steve Z. was the closest, guessing .260/.310/.350. Pat was also pretty close, at .270/.325/.350.

Overall, Duffy was a huge disappointment this year, but the trajectory of his season still gives some fans some hope. He was miserable out of the gate, hitting .194/.255/.276 in April and May. The Pirates try to send him to Class AAA. He had a spat with Jim Tracy and his staff over their coaching (they wanted him to walk more, hit ground balls and use his speed instead of hitting line drives), then refused to show up to his minor league assignment. He was out of baseball for a while, then wound up at Class AAA after all, where he played well. Then he was decent upon returning to Pittsburgh, hitting .282/.345/.366 for the rest of the year. That's pretty close to our projections.

Whether or not there were legitimate reasons for Duffy's poor play at the beginning of the year, it's usually unwise to pick and choose which portions of a player's career represent his real level of performance. For his career, Duffy is now hitting .280/.336/.364, which is about what I would have expected based on his minor league performance.

Duffy does not get on base all that well, and he certainly does not have the power you'd hope for from a major league outfielder. His excellent basestealing helps - he now has 28 steals against just three caught stealings in his major league career. Whether that and his terrific defense make up for his below-average hitting is a matter of debate. Duffy's .901 zone rating would put him fourth among major league centerfielders if he'd played enough there to qualify.

A few weeks ago, I claimed that "the Pirates' easiest path to improvement would be replacing Duffy with a league-average hitter." That was probably overstating things, and not just because Duffy ended up having a good month of September after I wrote that. It's not that Duffy's especially good - he's not - but that any replacement for Duffy would have to be a short-term fix, since Andrew McCutchen is the Pirates' best prospect. Any short-term fix the Pirates could acquire would probably be inadequate. So it's probably better to just stick with Duffy until McCutchen is ready. However, I would probably still bring in a minor league free agent centerfielder or two in spring training, just in case Duffy starts the year like he did last year or quits the team again. Duffy doesn't really sound too interested in playing baseball right now anyway.