Rays Matt Duffy Forgotten Man: Fantasy Value in 2017

Matt Duffy struggled through an injury last season with the Giants and then Rays. But, after his breakout 2015, should fantasy owners be showing him more love heading into 2017?

At the trade deadline last season Matt Duffy was sent packing from the Giants to the Rays for Matt Moore. For some it was surprising to see Duffy moved after his breakout role in 2015, and him being the Giants starting third basemen entering last season. But, an Achilles injury tanked all hopes of a follow-up performance.

Duffy’s breakout for the Giants came out of relatively nowhere as he was not lauded as a top prospect. His .295/12 HR/77 RBI/12 SB/.762 OPS in 2015 made him one the best waiver wire adds, and fantasy owners were looking forward to drafting him in 2016. But, things did not go smoothly.

He finished 2016 with a .258/5 HR/28 RBI/8 SB/.668 OPS line over 91 games. He was shut down in September, and he really never got things going all season.  While no one expected him to be a fantasy dynamo, it was clear that his numbers were severely down due to the injury.

The Rays moved him to shortstop after the trade and that is where they will enlist him next season. He will not enter the year with SS eligibility, but it further builds his value we he get the designation. Another area of optimism is his batted ball data from last season.  He posted a 22% LD, 29% FB, 57% Med, and 26% Hard contact rates in 2016.

None of those rates are more than 2% off what he was able to in 2015, so it is not as though the numbers show a clear decline. Moving out of AT&T Park and into the AL East will certainly help his HR numbers climb back into the double digits as well. This is not to say that owners should expect a huge improvement from the 12 HR from 2015, but he should have no issue eclipsing the only 5 HR he posted last season.

Duffy had three 20 SB seasons in the minors, so while he is not a burner by any means, he should be able to post double-digit SB again this season. Even on a bad heel he had 8 SB last season, yet was caught five times, so he still did his best to stay aggressive.

While his ceiling may be 15 HR/15 SB, fantasy owners should not sleep on him because of the AVG and RBI capabilities he can offer. With the Giants in 2015, Duffy found himself batting in the three hole a lot which drove up his RBI total to 77.

With the Rays, he will more than likely slide in the five hole with, Logan Forsythe, Kevin Kiermaier, Evan Longoria, and Brad Miller in front of him. Those four are not too bad of a supporting cast, meaning that he could very well flirt with 70+ RBI again in 2017. Add that he is a career .301 hitter in the minors and had a .295 hitter during his breakout, and it easy to see why a .280/12 HR/75 RBI/12 SB line could be on the table yet again.

Matt Duffy will not win any owners their leagues next season, but he is a guy that is overlooked thanks to his injury riddled sophomore season. By all reports he is well ahead of schedule in his recovery and will be fine for the start of spring training. Do not sleep on him this spring, as once he secures SS eligibility, he shapes up to be a great MI selection.

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