Shelley Duncan

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?

 


 

Player Value

Year Age Tm Lg PA Rbat Rbaser Rroe Rdp Rfield Rpos Rrep RAR WAR oRAR oWAR dWAR Salary Pos Awards
2007 27 NYY AL 83 2 0 0 0 1 -2 3 4 0.4 3 0.3 0.1 $ D/397
2008 28 NYY AL 65 -5 0 1 1 -1 -1 2 -3 -0.3 -2 -0.2 -0.1 $398,300 3/9
2009 29 NYY AL 15 -2 0 0 0 -1 0 1 -3 -0.3 -1 -0.1 -0.2 $ /9D
2010 30 CLE AL 259 2 -1 0 -0 4 -4 9 10 1.0 6 0.6 0.4 $ 7D/93
2011 31 CLE AL 209 8 -0 -0 -2 -2 -4 7 7 0.7 10 1.0 -0.3 $ 7D/39
5 Seasons 631 5 -1 1 -1 -1 -10 22 15 1.5 16 1.6 -0.1 $398,300
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 $
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2011.

 

Offensive Statistics

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Pos Awards
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
2007 27 NYY AL 34 83 74 16 19 1 0 7 17 0 0 8 20 .257 .329 .554 .883 127 D/397
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
2008 28 NYY AL 23 65 57 7 10 3 0 1 6 0 0 7 13 .175 .262 .281 .542 43 3/9
2009 29 NYY-min AAA 123 527 452 85 125 30 1 30 99 2 0 64 94 .277 .370 .546 .916 SWB · IL
2009 29 NYY AL 11 15 15 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 .200 .200 .200 .400 4 /9D
2010 30 CLE-min AAA 38 166 146 21 44 11 0 6 34 0 0 17 28 .301 .380 .500 .880 CLB · IL
2010 30 CLE AL 85 259 229 29 53 10 0 11 36 1 0 26 76 .231 .317 .419 .736 105 7D/93
2011 31 CLE-min AAA 33 137 109 20 22 3 0 5 19 1 0 24 24 .202 .350 .367 .717 CLB · IL
2011 31 CLE AL 65 209 190 26 52 14 0 10 38 0 1 15 46 .274 .335 .505 .840 132 7D/39
5 Seasons 218 631 565 79 137 28 0 29 98 1 1 56 160 .242 .316 .446 .762 107
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2011.
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