After another big game for Chris Duncan Thursday, message boards went abuzz as Cardinal fans were jumping on the Dunc bandwagon and are ready to anoint him as the next Cardinal star, while others are less hopeful. I don’t think he’s a star, but here’s a little reason for a positive outlook for the coach’s son.
In 1000 Minor League at bats, Duncan’s contact rate has been 74% (AB-K/AB), which is mediocre. His contact rate in the majors before his last call up was even worse, 62%. Since he’s been back up this July, his contact rate is 83%, which is about league average. Why the jump? According an article in July by Joe Strauss, McRae is trying to get Duncan to swing "out, not up". The emphasis, which I think is a very good one, is to get Duncan to staying in the zone longer and hitting line drives instead of running into the occasional homerun. Running into the occasional homerun seems to fit Duncans minor track record of 100’s of strikeouts, and 16 homer seasons here, and a 20 homer season there coupled with mediocre batting averages.
If the change is to stay, he still isn’t going to continue to hit .307 but .270 could be a real possibility. Couple that with his average to above average plate discipline and good power and I’m thinking a .270/.340/.480 season could be a achievable as soon as 2007. I’m not sold it will happen, mind you, just saying it could happen. Interestingly, PECOTA’s top comparables are George Scott, Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson. The last 2 are pretty lofty company, the Sawx’s "Boomer" seems the most similiar out of the 3. If you ask me for a comp, I’m thinking Chris Shelton of the Detroit Tigers, who recently was ousted to AAA in favor of the veteran Sean Casey. Shelton’s streaky, can be victimized by K’s but has decent power and walk rates. Dunc’s 25, Shelton’s 26. Shelton doesn’t need to be platooned, Dunc probably does.
All in all, I do think he can be more then a .250 hitter that many have projected him to be given the McRae factor. But it’s something he needs to stick to, and not go back into swing for the fences mode.