Grading the 2023 KC Royals: Infielder Matt Duffy

Duffy played an important utility role for Kansas City.
Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our annual Kings of Kauffman postseason series analyzing the performance of various KC Royals players. Today, we take a look at how Matt Duffy did in 2023.

No one should have been surprised when the Royals signed veteran infielder Matt Duffy not long before opening their 2023 spring training camp. Kansas City always places a premium on versatility, and the journeyman Duffy had it. He'd played at every infield spot and in left field, served as a designated hitter, and pitched once across stints with the Rays, Giants, Angels and Cubs during his seven-season big league career.

And the Royals needed an experienced utility man to plug the roster gap created when they dealt Whit Merrifield to Toronto at the 2022 trade deadline.

As it turned out, Duffy didn't completely fill Merrifield's shoes; few players could. But he certainly helped the club during one of its most trying and disappointing campaigns.

Matt Duffy had a decent season for the KC Royals

Duffy, who's now played out his one-year Kansas City contract and will, barring a new deal with the Royals, probably move on this winter, played in 78 games this season. He appeared at third base 31 times, at second 22 times, and at first 17 times. He also took four turns at designated hitter and pitched twice.

Duffy's work with the bat wasn't stellar, but few players star at the plate when they play less than every other game. He hit a pair of homers, drove in 16 runs, slashed .251/.306/.325, and had a 75 OPS+ and 72 wRC+.

Duffy also didn't stand out defensively. Although fielding percentage may be a less than perfect measure of total defensive performance, it can be informative, especially for part-time players, and Duffy's marks — .977 at first, .946 at second, and .943 at third — mean he could have been much better.

What season grade should Matt Duffy get?

Duffy had the kind of year many role players do. It wasn't a superstar-type campaign; nor was it a disaster. Always reliable, he filled in when and where manager Matt Quatraro needed him, and never performed badly.

All things considered, including the fact the Royals never expected him to be an All-Star, Duffy deserves a C+ for his work this season.

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