Power is not generally an undervalued commodity, especially in the recent pitching-dominant years, but the Indians were able to add it via minor-league free agency.
Shelley Duncan, the son of former Indian Dave Duncan, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2001 Draft (65th overall). His minor-league career was not spectacular, but he did show from the beginning of it the ability to hit for power, even if other aspects of his game weren't that attractive. Always old for his league, he first made it to AA in his Age 25 season, and his fifth professional season. He would spend two years in Trenton, and would finally make it to AAA in 2007, at the age of 27. But a very good season with Columbus, and an injury to Kevin Thompson, bought him a ticket to the majors. The Yankees purchased his contract, and he appeared in 34 games for New York, mostly as a Designated Hitter. He hit .257/.329/.554 in his 83 Plate Appearances, hitting 7 home runs in his limited playing time.
He started the 2008 season on the 25-man roster, but didn't hit, and was optioned to AAA on June 5. A couple weeks later, he separated his shoulder while making a catch, and missed almost two months. I believe that he was outrighted off the 40-man roster some time during the 2008 season or possibly that winter. He would rejoin Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in early August, and post an .848 OPS in 60 games. He would play almost the entire 2009 season in AAA, hitting .277/.370/.546 with 30 home runs, which won him AAA MVP honors. But he was doing this as a 29-year-old, and in his ninth minor-league season, so when the Yankees outrighted him again (after a very short September cup of coffee), he refused the assignment and elected to become a free agent.
He signed a minor-league contract with the Indians, and his contract was purchased on May 19th after Grady Sizemore went on the Disabled List. He played some both corner outfield positions and some first base, hitting .231/.317/.419 in 259 Plate Appearances with the Indians. He didn't start every day, but often made a pinch hitting appearance on days when was on the bench.
This season, Duncan started the season with the Indians, and has spent of the year in Cleveland. He was optioned to Columbus three times; his first stint in June was just for 16 days, and his stint in July and early August was about three weeks, and he spent August 14-19 in Columbus (he was recalled when Jason Kipnis went on the Disabled List. He's played regularly since his return, and is in the midst of his best stretch of hitting in his major-league career.
There's usually a reason why a hitter with power has only gotten 631 major-league Plate Appearances, and although Duncan had the misfortune of trying to break into a roster with no shortage of power hitters, his defensive limitations slowed his path to the majors. He can play left field and first base, but not that well. He has a good arm, but little range in the outfield.
The one thing he does well is hit for power, and that alone makes him a useful player; in 468 Plate Appearances with the Indians, he's hit 21 home runs, and power has been sorely lacking from the traditional power positions. He's not going to be the Tribe's starting left fielder or first baseman next season, but he's going to be on the roster in some capacity. Travis Hafner, even if he's healthy, is no longer an everyday player, and neither is Grady Sizemore.
Did I mention that Duncan can hit a fastball?
|NYY (3 yrs)||163||-5||0||1||1||-2||-3||6||-2||-0.2||0||0.0||-0.2||$398,300|
|CLE (2 yrs)||468||10||-1||0||-2||1||-7||16||17||1.7||16||1.6||0.1||$|
|2001||21||NYY-min||A-||70||302||273||43||67||17||2||8||39||5||3||21||62||.245||.311||.410||.722||STI · NYPL|
|2002||22||NYY-min||A||101||419||356||58||95||23||2||14||56||15||3||59||88||.267||.375||.461||.835||GBO · SALL|
|2003||23||NYY-min||A+||91||375||330||42||87||19||2||8||47||5||1||35||83||.264||.336||.406||.742||TAM · FLOR|
|2004||24||NYY-min||A+||123||494||424||65||105||27||1||19||78||6||3||54||119||.248||.336||.450||.787||TAM · FLOR|
|2005||25||NYY-min||AA||142||606||537||86||129||28||2||34||92||3||2||56||140||.240||.323||.490||.813||TRE · EL|
|2006||26||NYY-min||AA,AAA||104||442||394||48||98||25||0||20||65||3||1||39||87||.249||.321||.464||.786||TRE,CLB · EL,IL|
|2007||27||NYY-min||AAA||91||387||336||58||99||18||1||25||79||2||2||45||82||.295||.380||.577||.957||SWB · IL|
|2008||28||NYY-min||AAA,Rk||60||260||212||38||49||14||0||12||44||6||1||42||58||.231||.358||.467||.825||SWB,YNK · IL,GULF|
|2009||29||NYY-min||AAA||123||527||452||85||125||30||1||30||99||2||0||64||94||.277||.370||.546||.916||SWB · IL|
|2010||30||CLE-min||AAA||38||166||146||21||44||11||0||6||34||0||0||17||28||.301||.380||.500||.880||CLB · IL|
|2011||31||CLE-min||AAA||33||137||109||20||22||3||0||5||19||1||0||24||24||.202||.350||.367||.717||CLB · IL|
|162 Game Avg.||162||469||420||59||102||21||0||22||73||1||1||42||119||.242||.316||.446||.762||107|
|NYY (3 yrs)||68||163||146||24||32||4||0||8||24||0||0||15||38||.219||.290||.411||.701||81|
|CLE (2 yrs)||150||468||419||55||105||24||0||21||74||1||1||41||122||.251||.325||.458||.783||117|