Mauricio Dubon was ahead of the curve. Streets ahead. A pacesetter. Choose your idiom.
He was early in jumping on the Giants’ Bartwagon.
Leading up to the season, the super utilityman was open about his confidence in a team that is used to being underdogs; how many times, Dubon asked July 12, were the Giants “favored to win the World Series? Never.”
A team that now features Joey Bart, that is suddenly crushing opposing pitching especially at the typically hitting-allergic Oracle Park, that has won six straight, is giving him confidence he wasn’t wrong.
“We know we have a good team, and we know we can make something happen. We’re playing good baseball,” Dubon said over Zoom this weekend. “This is a long year, but we’re just taking it one day at a time right now. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll be in a good spot.”
The spot they’re in is suddenly the playoffs, percentage points giving them the No. 8 seed in the West entering Tuesday’s home game with the Dodgers. Their bullpen has solidified, their generally hot hitting has caught fire. And their catcher has arrived, Bart putting significant imprints on even games he hasn’t started, demonstrating a new skill seemingly each time he takes the field.
Dubon watched his catcher blister a pitch 103.4 mph off the right-field brick Friday, an opposite-field shot that is rarely seen at Oracle Park.
“I’m like, this guy. It’s not fair for everybody how he hits the ball that hard,” Dubon said with a smile of a slugger who’s 4-for-12 with three doubles. “It’s crazy how he’s so talented and so young at the same time. He’s going to be here for a long time.”
Dubon will want to be with him each step of the way, and his play over the past week has been more encouraging for his present and future.
He struggled out of the gate, chasing a lot of pitches and hitting .200 through his first 17 games with a single walk. The Giants wanted to see more patience and careful selection from the 26-year-old, who has responded well.
Dubon, like a lot of the lineup, has been brilliant over his past 10 games, going 9-for-23 (.391), though without an extra-base hit, while stealing two bags. Perhaps the best sign for the Giants is he has four walks and just three strikeouts over the span.
“[I’m] a little bit more comfortable and also laying off the pitches that I can’t do anything about,” Dubon said about his upswing of his swing, before praising the Giants’ hitting tandem of Donnie Ecker, Justin Viele and Dustin Lind. “…We’ve been talking about being a big-league hitter and swinging at the pitches I can actually do damage on. And so far it’s a process, but it’s been working.”
It has for Dubon, whose slash line is up to .265/.311/.324. He attributes the recent success not to the swing tweaks that so many have underwent but from a different mindset at the plate.
He used to be so cognizant of his batting average, and now he focuses on the second number of the slash line.
“It’s just a matter of getting on base and make something happen, and for me that was always my weakness — not being able to learn how to take pitches,” Dubon said. “Now that everything is clicking, I feel that it’s going to get even better.”
For himself and a team he believes in.
Unemployed ballpark workers are planning to protest again outside Oracle Park during Tuesday night’s game. Two-hundred-twenty demonstrated last time. They feel the Giants should do more to support them because so many have been longtime fixtures at the ballpark. The Giants are not their employers and feel it falls to Bon Appetit, the food contractor, to ensure they are compensated during COVID-19. Bon Appetit has laid off scores of workers in the past few months.