Chris Duncan, the 25-year-old winner of the Cardinals 2006 Rookie of the Year Award, has made his mark via the long ball. He belted his 21st home run Monday, which was also his 18th since the All-Star break. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that those 18 second-half homers have established a new club mark for rookies. The previous record-holder was Albert Pujols, who hit 16 in the second half of 2001.
The 6’-5”, 210 pound Duncan is currently ranked fourth among National League rookies in home runs and his 12.9 at-bats per home run is tops among all Major League rookies with at least 100 at-bats. He is also third among NL rookies with a .295 batting average.
Overall, the left-handed slugger is tied for second on the Cards’ single-season rookie home run list with Ray Jablonski (1953), with both behind Pujols, who hit 37 in 2001.
Duncan is currently on a power run with five home runs in his last 12 games, including first-inning long balls in two of last five home games. He has 14 home runs and 23 RBI in his last 39 starts and he has hit safely in 26 of his last 36 starts. During that period, he batted .302 with 12 multi-hit games. Duncan has hit in 42 of last 63 games, batting .305 (65-for-213) with 18 home runs and 32 RBI.
Game highlights this season include two home runs on September 15 against the San Francisco Giants, which was his second two-homer game this season. The other was on August 10 at Cincinnati.
Last weekend, Duncan singled, walked twice and scored Sunday night at Houston. He hit his third triple of the year on September 19th at Milwaukee. Those triples are tied for third-most on the team.
He belted his third career pinch-hit home run on August 31 vs. Florida, which was his second of the season. Duncan’s longest hit streak this season ended on August 22 at nine games, during which he hit .531.
Duncan was voted National League Rookie of the Month for August, with a .361 average, nine home runs, 14 RBI and a .747 slugging percentage. Earlier he had been named the NL Co-Player of the Week for the week ending August 21.
This is the 18th year of the Rookie award, voted on by St. Louis writers and broadcasters. Past winners include John Costello (1988), Ken Hill (1989), Todd Zeile (1990), Ray Lankford (1991), Donovan Osborne (1992), Rene Arocha (1993), John Mabry (1995), Alan Benes (1996), Matt Morris (1997), Eli Marrero (1998), Joe McEwing (1999), Rick Ankiel (2000), Albert Pujols (2001), Jason Simontacchi (2002), Bo Hart (2003), So Taguchi (2004) and Brad Thompson (2005).
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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