Fresno Grizzlies

Grizzlies’ ‘Real Matt Duffy’ makes MVP case

The Grizzlies’ Matt Duffy, at right congratulating shortstop Jonathan Villar after he homered Saturday, leads all Triple-A hitters in RBIs with 94.
The Grizzlies’ Matt Duffy, at right congratulating shortstop Jonathan Villar after he homered Saturday, leads all Triple-A hitters in RBIs with 94. sflores@fresnobee.com

The most valuable player on the Fresno Grizzlies is almost as well-known for who he’s not – rather than who he is or what he’s done.

Yes, his name is Matt Duffy.

No, he’s not the San Francisco Giants third baseman.

Confused? It happens.

Quite often actually.

“The real Matt Duffy,” as his Grizzlies teammates refer to him, might not be in the majors just yet.

But he’s put together the type of season that could have him named MVP by season’s end and maybe earn a promotion to the majors.

And still the mix-up continues.

There’s at least one errant baseball card that has a photo of “the other Matt Duffy” on the front, but the bio information and statistics of “the real Matt Duffy” on the back.

“I think it’s unique and very funny,” Duffy said of being mistaken for the other Duffy. “It happens all the time. It’s something I obviously don’t get upset about. We do have the exact same name.

“Being in Fresno, too, and the Grizzlies being the Giants (former Triple-A team), I’m sure that adds to the confusion for some people.”

A 20th-round pick by Houston out of Tennessee in 2011, Duffy has been promoted midseason during each of the past two years.

He hasn’t gotten a call-up yet this year despite the Astros having recalled 16 players who’ve played for Fresno.

Duffy leads all Triple-A hitters in RBIs, tops the Pacific Coast League in runs and is tied for fourth in hits.

But the steady playing time with the Grizzlies has helped Duffy, 26, lead all Triple-A hitters in RBIs with 94.

The right-handed hitter also tops the Pacific Coast League in runs (80) and is third in hits (131). Through Monday, the 6-foot-3 Duffy was hitting .308 with 17 home runs and an .878 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

“I think Duffy’s got a good chance to be MVP,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He’s been our most consistent hitter all year.”

Duffy has elevated his play the past 11/2 months, hitting .364 (56 for 154) with 23 extra-base hits, 40 runs and 39 RBIs in 41 games since July 1.

He’s also made just one fielding error in his past 22 games, turning the corner defensively since a three-error game May 27.

For the season, Duffy has a .932 fielding percentage at third with 11 errors in 162 chances and .991 at first (two errors in 220 chances).

“Earlier in the year, he was having some problems,” DeFrancesco said. “But he’s cleaned it up.

“Matt’s a hard worker. He’s a guy you root for. He’s been grinding it out for four, five years. Not worried about the other stuff.”

I think Duffy’s got a good chance to be MVP. He’s been our most consistent hitter all year.

Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco

One major league scout said Duffy doesn’t look fluid playing third base but is adequate for the majors, though likely it will be his hitting that dictates if he gets to the bigs. If he is called up, potentially when major league rosters expand in September, the Astros would have to remove a player from their 40-man roster.

110 Duffy leads the Grizzlies in games played, providing a power bat in the lineup throughout the season while others have shuffled between Fresno and the parent club Houston Astros

Fresno will be happy to keep him as long as possible, with Duffy providing a steady power bat and helping keep the Grizzlies in the hunt for the best record in Triple-A despite their roster turnover.

And if an MVP trophy and leading the Grizzlies to a PCL or perhaps even a Triple-A championship is all that’s in store for Duffy this season, he’s happy with that, too.

“I just know,” Duffy said, “my hard work will pay off eventually.”

Bryant-Jon Anteola: (559) 441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee

The ‘real Matt Duffy’ file

Age: 26

Height/weight: 6-3/215 pounds

Hits/throws: Right/right

Position: Third base, first base

Draft: 20th round out of Tennessee by the Houston Astros in 2011

From: Boston

Other notables: Shares same name as San Francisco Giants rookie third baseman; the two are not related but met briefly when playing against each other in Class-A in 2012.

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