Let Mauricio Dubon be the smiling, slugging, walking, sometimes striking-out face of the Giants’ hitting mentality. He gets it.
“It’s going to work,” Dubon said Monday after a few plate appearances in which process trumped results. “It’s not going to work every time, but most of the time, I’m going to get a good result out of it.”
The 26-year-old rookie needed some time to adjust to what was being asked of him, not finding his way on base in the early going. Through 56 plate appearances, he walked just once and batted .226, beginning to lose playing time and the Giants preaching patience.
Walks have never come easily to a player who likes to hit. But the Giants’ hitting minds want their pupils to wait a pitcher out, until a mistake pitch comes into their zones and then to pounce. That might mean taking a strike three on the outside corner because even if they swing, they won’t do anything productive with the pitch. That might mean Dubon goes down looking on an excellent inside fastball, as he did in Monday’s third inning against Zac Gallen.
But it might mean Dubon hears the dugout erupt as it did after his sixth-inning plate appearance.
With two on and without an out in a game the Giants trailed, 1-0, Dubon went down 0-2.
“Battle and try to make something happen,” Dubon said of his mindset after the 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks. “Look for something close to the zone. [Gallen] gets a lot of chases down in the zone, down and away.”
Dubon watched four offspeed offerings dive away from him and laid off each one. He had a walk, the Giants had a bases-loaded rally, and soon they would have a victory.
“He’s doing a better job. He still has some development left there,” Gabe Kapler said of Dubon’s improving choosiness. “I actually think what’s separating him from being an excellent major league hitter is just a little bit more plate discipline. We’ve seen signs of his ability to lay off tough pitches. We’ve seen his ability to foul pitches off and extend an at-bat. Those are certainly great signs. But he still is working to lay off pitches that he can’t drive.
“That at-bat was an exceptional example of his ability to get it done.”
For much of the beginnings of this season, Dubon praised Hunter Pence for advice about being a major leaguer. Recently, it’s been Brandon Belt (and the hitting coaches) Dubon shouts out as a guide, instructing him that it’s OK to strike out sometimes as long as you’re hunting for the pitch that you can drive.
“I’m not looking to walk — a walk is a product of a good at-bat,” said Dubon, who will still take walks when the pitch he can stroke doesn’t appear.
His slash line is all the way up to .280/.327/.360 while playing an able center field, absorbing lessons on both sides of the game this year. All with a team that has bought into the approach and is now tied for fourth in MLB with 218 runs scored.
“You’re never going to know who’s going to be the player of the night,” Dubon said, a sign of a good team.