We move right along with our San Francisco Giants season reviews, with Mauricio Dubón.
54 games, 177 plate appearances, .274/.337/.389, .726 OPS, 4 home runs, 19 RBI, 15 walks to 36 strikeouts
101 OPS+, 101 wRC+, 0.8 rWAR, 0.5 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Dubón made the Opening Day roster and remained on the active roster for the entirety of the season.
The timeline of Dubón’s season was a little bit funny. With question marks across the diamond for the Giants, Dubón made the Opening Day roster as a middle infielder who could potentially provide some center field depth as well. It seemed he could platoon at shortstop with Brandon Crawford, play second base on the days that Crawford started, and bop into center when necessary.
He started the first three games of the season, twice at second base and once at shortstop. He went hitless, with 5 strikeouts and 0 walks in 10 plate appearances.
In the fourth game of the season he got his first start in center field and looked comfortable.
Just a few days later, as the Giants were set to welcome back Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria, I wondered if Dubón might get optioned. I didn’t expect it to happen, but he was struggling with the bat, and some time in Sacramento wouldn’t have been shocking.
It didn’t happen, but Dubón’s bat stayed cold. After the Giants lost to the Houston Astros on Aug. 12 — marking the end of a disastrous 10-game road trip — Dubón was hitting 9-42 with just 1 home run, 1 double, and 1 walk to 12 strikeouts.
Between that cold streak, and the unexpectedly stellar offensive contributions of Crawford and Donovan Solano, the playing time started to slip for Dubón.
And then he became a center fielder. To that point, Dubón had mostly played in the infield, with a few games in center. In the next two games he started at shortstop but moved to center later in the game. And on Aug. 16 he started in center field, and wouldn’t play another inning at a different position all year.
Whether related or not, it served him well offensively. After becoming the everyday center fielder, Dubón hit 31-104, with 3 home runs, 1 triple, 3 doubles, and 14 walks to 23 strikeouts. He exhibited control over the strike zone that wasn’t there earlier in the year; he was more patient, made more contact, and took fewer poor swings. As a result, his walk rate nearly doubled from his debut season in 2020.
He’s unlikely to ever be a power hitter, but he was able to work counts in his favor, and make solid contact with consistency. He ended up having a nice offensive season for his position, and had better numbers than Longoria.
But perhaps most impressive was his defense in the outfield after a career of studying the infield.
Dubón wasn’t knocking on the door of the Gold Glove Award, but he more than held his own. He made the smart play with regularity, rarely tried to do too much, and had a fair share of highlights.
Role in 2021
I would expect Dubón’s versatility to be put on more display in 2021. There could be step-back years from Crawford or Solano, at which point he may see more time back in the middle infield. It seems reasonable to expect that Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, and Gabe Kapler view Dubón as a utility player who can be used all over the diamond to help the team get the best matchups on any given day. The closer the Giants get to assembling the roster they actually want, the more I think we’ll see that.
He wasn’t electric (though his smile was), but he was good, valuable, and provided a lot of positional versatility.
The biggest knock was that he had a handful of poor judgement plays that proved very costly, and that needs to change going forward.
How would you grade Mauricio Dubón’s season?
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