Houston Astros Matt Duffy is still trying to break into the lineup.
Houston Astros infielder Matt Duffy can’t seem to catch a break. After a spectacular 2015 season in Triple-A, he made the Astros Opening Day roster, only to be optioned back to Fresno on April 12 when Evan Gattis returned from a rehab stint. Duffy looked like he might get his chance to break into the Astros starting lineup at third base if incumbent Luis Valbuena slipped, but at least for now, he will be starting for Fresno.
Known among his Fresno Grizzlies teammates and coaches as “the real Matt Duffy,“ according to the Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola, the 27-year-old Boston native is involved in a bit of an identity problem. If you’re an Astros fan and you Google ‘Matt Duffy’, you’re not going to get the guy you’re looking for. The search comes up with the other Duffy. Yes, his name is also Matt Duffy, but he plays for the Giants. For Astros fans, you have to specify, ‘Matt Duffy Astros’ to get the right guy.
The Astros Matt Duffy tore up the PCL last year. In 127 games and 490 at bats, he hit .294/.366/.484, with 144 hits, 20 home runs, scored 90 runs, and drove in 104. One would think that such a performance would almost guarantee a fair big league chance, but no one said baseball was fair. With Gattis’ bat on fire in his short Double-A assignment, the Astros had to put him immediately in the lineup, leaving Duffy the odd man out.
Duffy’s problem doesn’t end with Gattis or Valbuena though. He has stiff competition at Fresno, and with others moving up through the Astros minor league system. In Triple-A, third baseman Colin Moran is off to a hot start, hitting .375 through April 12. Double-A Corpus Christi has the promising J.D. Davis at third, and although hot-hitting Alex Bregman has only appeared at shortstop, he could well be moved to third shortly.
That doesn’t leave much breathing room for Duffy. If Gattis continues to hit now that he is back with Houston, and if Valbuena’s bat picks up, Duffy will still be on the outside looking in. With so many options for the Astros, they may end up offering Duffy in trade. His former Fresno teammates Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana are both starting in the Major Leagues for their new team, the Brewers after separate trades sent them to Milwaukee.
Clearly, he has a lot of time and effort invested in making the Astros, however, a move to another big league team may be the break that the real Matt Duffy needs.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference and MLB.com**