Braves 2020 Player Review: Adam Duvall

Amazon.com: 2020 Topps #482 Adam Duvall Atlanta Braves MLB Baseball Trading  Card: Collectibles & Fine Art

When the Braves acquired Adam Duvall in 2018, I wrote that basically his job was to hit a home run per week. In 2020, Duvall hit 6 weeks worth in 2 games.

Adam had the kind of season the Braves must have been hoping for when they acquired him, with 16 homers in 190 at bats (and for the record, 9 weeks.) This was good for 3rd in the NL, along with a logjam of other folks. He obviously had a hot streak in a shortened season, so for a little more perspective let’s go back to 2019. From that view he’s hit 26 homers in his last 310 at bats.

Duvall has a reputation as a pretty good left fielder, and he finished 1st or 2nd in range factor per 9 innings from 2016- 2018. He’s dropped off in his 30’s; basically league average in this category in the 75 games he’s played in left field over the last 2 seasons.

Duvall makes a lot of outs, and his 2020 season was no exception. His .237 batting average and .301 on base percentage were right around his career numbers (.233 and .293 respectively.) There has been discussion that the best use for Duvall is in a platoon, but while he is better against left handed pitchers, he is not exactly a lefty masher. His career averages against lefties are .243 and .318.

You’ve got to eat a lot of Cracker Jacks to get to the prize with Adam, and he was pretty terrible in the limited time he platooned in 2018. My opinion is that Duvall requires a lot of at bats to get the payoff, and is therefore less suited to platooning.

Duvall is someone who did not really take off until he was age 27. My main concern when he was acquired was will he still be useful on the other side of his prime years? So far Adam is still being Adam. His age 31 season ended with an oblique strain in game 1 of the NLCS. It’s not hard to picture a healthy Duvall turning a game around over the course of those 7 days. Let’s hope he gets a chance to turn around a playoff game in his age 32 season.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

48 thoughts on “Braves 2020 Player Review: Adam Duvall”

  1. Duvall Power Rankings: (1) Robert, (2) David, (3) Shelley and (4) Adam. With a sustained push, Adam might be able to pass Shelley, but I think that’s about his ceiling.

  2. Thank you, Rusty. It’s easy to wish Adam well.

    I read/heard that the NL DH is a no go in 2021. Same source, Tomahawk Take I think, expects MLB and MLBPA to negotiate the DH staying in 2021 and the 26th roster slot becoming permanent. Is there anything official on that?

  3. @3
    The 26th man on the roster has already been agreed upon, so it’s here to stay. Many think the DH will be here, but it’s pure negligence by the MLB to not have that figured out by now.

  4. @2: Adam’s biggest problem is that there are three more talented Duvalls than he is, albeit in different fields. Contrast this, for example, with Freeman, who trails only Morgan all-time. Hank leads both Tommy and Tommie, for example, all-time for an easy win. I leave to others the awesome responsibility of creating the Jones power rankings.

  5. I dunno man, I feel like Adam is right up there with Shelley. She didn’t have much of an acting career past The Shining. If you make an All-Star team, you’re ahead of Shelley Duvall.

    Is Dansby Swanson behind Kristy Swanson in the Swanson Power Rankings?

    I’m not aware of anyone ahead of Austin in the Riley Power Rankings, as well.

    Mike leads the Foltynewicz Power Rankings, which may be his biggest accomplish, for which he should not be proud.

    This should be its own thread.

  6. Ya’ll seem to have a higher opinion of David Duval (who does technically spell his last name with one L, although I agree with including him in the mix here) than I do. Robert is obviously uncatchable, though.

    UPDATE: In a case of “look it up before opening your mouth,” I just looked at David Duval’s career and it was waaay better than I remember. I remembered he won the British Open, but I didn’t remember he finished second at the Masters twice and at the U.S. Open once, and that the U.S. Open where he finished second came like 10 years after his peak. He was also possibly the best golfer in the world in 1998 (though assumedly most people if asked would say it was Tiger Woods). Mea culpa, David.

  7. @6: I’ve got some recency bias, because I just watched Nashville two nights ago, and Shelley was great. In addition, her debut in Brewster McCloud is something pretty special. She also has two Emmy Award nominations and a Peabody Award, which is about equal to an AllStar Game pick. Like I said, it’s close. But Robert and David are out of reach…. I assume we agree on that.

  8. I like diversity in a lineup, and Duvall provides a game-changing amount of power, something that is a little scarce in our lineup. That .532 SLG and 48-homer pace across 162 last year, matched with his defense, makes him pretty valuable. But if we don’t have the DH next year, then I’m not sure he’s a fit for our roster unless you believe he can just mash LHP in a platoon.

  9. Whoever Brett Duvall is, he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. So I don’t know if he’s even 5th.

    And we’re being a little too generous to David with the whole Duval/Duvall controversy. Put it this way: if he showed up to any particular Duvall Family Christmas, would they let him in the door?

  10. @13

    Perhaps, if he could provide extensive documentation and promised a public denunciation of the specific barbaric ancestor who removed the extra L.

  11. I recently saw Nashville for the first time and it’s a really incredible movie. I… did not predict that particular ending, though.

    I’m really really ambivalent about Duvall. We’ve always had more abundant lefty power than righty power. It’s typically not that hard to find a lefty platoon corner outfielder on the wrong side of 30 — I’d rather have him on the 2021 squad than Neck Kakes or Matt Joyce, obviously, but the fact that we’ve had a logjam of these kind of guys sort of illustrates the point. If Duvall winds up with the 26th roster spot, I won’t be heartbroken about it. But if Pravda tries to use him in an attempt to spin our failure to acquire a big-ticket free agent outfielder (or acquire one via trade), I will be mad at him by proxy.

    Could be one of my worse ideas, but here’s a question: given our recent discussions of bad contract swaps and our assistant GM just having gone to Anaheim, are we interested in bringing back Jupton? He’s still only 33 — just a year older than Duvall — and while he was frankly terrible in 2019 and bad last year, the underlying metrics looked a little more positive for him. (He was in 23rd in hard-hit percentage among outfielders, just ahead of Mookie Betts.) I don’t think he’s a starter. But he could be a right-handed platoon guy. He has two years and $51 million left on his contract and a no-trade clause, and I think Los Angeles would likely pay a good amount of money to clear his contract and roster spot, with Jo Adell on the way.

    Let’s say we traded Ender for Upton plus, say, $30 million in cash, so we would be picking up the last two years and $20 million but clearing Ender’s $9 million contract ($8 million for 2021 plus a $1m buyout for 2022). In effect, Upton would be nearly free in 2021 but would cost $11 million in 2022. Whereas L.A. would save very little money this year, but a whole bunch of money in 2022.

    Would that be worth a flyer? Would Anaheim do it?

  12. Are we talking about Brett DeVall? I seem to remember once upon a time his father on one of the Braves blogs clapping back at critics of his son. Brett was a first-rounder in 2008 who never did anything. He was released before the start of the 2011 season. An awful pick by the Braves.

    Interestingly, looks like he attempted a comeback with the Joliet Jackhammers and got torched.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=devall001bre

    I’m not sure why the Braves gave up on him so quickly. His signing bonus was $1M. I hope he invested it.

  13. Joliet Slammers, that is.

    Anyways, Kimbrel was a third round pick in that draft, just for comparison of how bad a pack DeVall was.

  14. If there was a way of trading Ender’s bad money for JUpton, I would do it.

    The problem is, there’s no reason why anyone would even take Ender for free. He’s not even worth a roster spot. He’s a decent defensive outfielder but cannot hit whatsoever. He’s below replacement level. The only team, at this point, that will keep him on a roster is the Atlanta Braves, IMO. And even that’s a stretch.

  15. It’s weird, but all of Kris Bryant’s value came with the bat and it was bad in 2020 and there aren’t any real positive advanced metrics that point to it being fluky. Sure, he’s a star, but that seems a large gamble for the Cubs.

  16. Gabriel Duvall was a Justice on the US Supreme Court for 23 years (1811-1834). Ordinarily that should get you in the top five at least. But no one remembers him because he did nothing memorable, other than agree with Chief Justice John Marshall in every case. A baseball equivalent may be Willie Bloomquist—16 seasons, 1.7 career WAR.

    Shelley Duvall, on the other hand, was transplendent in Annie Hall.

  17. Austin Riley is still so far down the Riley power rankings that he can’t even be seen. Pat is completely out of reach and Austin hasn’t even caught Rick yet (Reilly, that is). No need to even mention the GOAT (Ignatius P., of course).

  18. I think for 5 to 6 million, holding on to Duvall for one more year makes sense for a team in contention, EVEN IF, you sign a Brantlee or Springer. That way your 4th worst outfielder is either (a) an above average all around player or (b) a spectacular fielding youngster who might hit.

    One thing, if you tender Duvall, that commits 1 /6th. So, then if you get a shot at Sprigner, you can cut DuVall. Then, if Duvall craters in spring training, you can cut him at 1/4th.

    And, if he pushes forward a little bit this year, you have another arb year that is worth taking and then maybe a QE year worth taking. A non tender would be absolutely stupid.

  19. On the other hand, with slightly more permissive spelling standards, I think Austin is already higher on the list than Brooks Raley!

  20. For those of you that watch the old Match Game from the 70s and 80s, I think Austin is comfortably ahead of Charles Nelson Riley. The guy just wasn’t all that funny and I can’t remember a whole lot he did except Match Game.

  21. @26

    Rick Reilly can cheerily cram it, as far as I’m concerned…and would no doubt write some dreadful BS about having to cram it.

    Pat Riley, though, gives Austin almost no chance of reaching the top of the Riley Rankings.

  22. The Mets are off to a roarin’ start for 2021. I guess they save some money at least.

    News: Robinson Cano has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time and will be suspended 162 games, sources tell ESPN. He will miss the entire 2021 season and forfeit $24 million in salary. Story at ESPN: https://t.co/BOA943F6CT— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 18, 2020

  23. @21 MLBTR had him on their list of non-tender candidates.

    @27 I made that comment several weeks ago. But it seemed like they did extremely well when hitting back-to-back in the lineup. Felt kinda like if one of them didn’t get you then the other would. [Note: I also added they felt like the same player right now with one on the way up and the other on the way down]

    I can’t even keep up with the Joneses.

  24. @33 and @27, you’re absolutely right. For some reason in my comment @16 I thought Duvall was a lefty. I am a dumb person.

  25. Bless your hearts, y’all do not deserve me mounting this soapbox; but a baseball fan has duties.

    Numbers have ruined my beautiful game. The urge to quantify, to measure every detail, has robbed this great game of its essential beauty. What number is any one of any number of instances of Andruw or Andrelton working their art? Did you guys fall in love with the back of the card or the poetry of Simba at his best?

    I understand. How else will we KNOW what’s good and what is not? That fruit caused trouble before. Y’all watch for snakes.

  26. Coop, y’ain’t wrong, but Adam ain’t Andrelton and Andruw, and your lyin’ eyes could’ve told you that Buzz Capra really only had that one year.

    Ronald is as transcendent a player as any Brave since Maddux. Ozzie and Soroka and Fried are a joy to root for. Freddie maybe could be a Hall of Famer. I love these guys.

    But when it comes to the 24th guy on the roster, there’s not a lot of poetry in motion. Adam Duvall runs into one every so often and he makes outs the rest of the time. If we’re going to talk about him, we’re going to have to pull out the back of his baseball card and compare it against every other stiff who hits like him.

  27. coop, feel free to ignore the numbers. And about 75% of the time, all the numbers do is confirm what your eyes can already see and provide almost nothing extra. Simba and Andruw are two great examples. And I can easily watch a game without seeing any numbers at all.
    BUT….

    (a) most players are somewhere in the middle, not at the extremes, and you need to make distinctions between players you don’t actually watch every day… how you gonna do that? Highlight films don’t do it.

    (b) Sometimes when a player is bad, it’s great to know exactly why they’re bad… maybe it’s something you can fix. For some, the numbers (particularly the Statcast breakdowns for pitchers) give you something concrete to work on.

    (c) Every once in awhile, the numbers fix something that the eyes have misperceived. Derek Jeter made so many great plays that it took the numbers to show he was a below-average shortstop. Same with clutch hitting, which the numbers show is barely a skill at all, and an ephemeral one if it is.

    So I can watch baseball without any numbers, but it’s sure hard to talk baseball without them.

    [and apparently Alex agrees with me]

  28. Swanson Power Ratings: (1) Ron (2) Gloria (3) Carl (4) Dansby, but Dansby is catching up pretty quickly on Carl, and Gloria is worried. Ron is never worried.

  29. @32. That’s a huge break for the Mets. They not only don’t have to pay him next year, they don’t have to play him, either. And as 2021 is likely to be truncated, they might well be free of him for 2022 as well.

  30. @38

    coop…spot on…’age shall not weary you nor the years condemn’….

    Jonathan F’s apologia for numbers is as good as it gets but he is still quieted by your ‘lack of any beauty.’

    Meanwhile…

    Robinson Cano…Robinson Crusoe…no PED’s on the Island.

  31. This story is absolutely awesome. The painstaking compilation of Negro Leagues stats has come further than I’d ever guessed. They’ve built a database of Negro Leagues stats with comprehensive leader boards based on painstaking box score research — basically think Retrosheet.

    They’ve established — though it’s no surprise — that the speedy [Cool Papa] Bell holds the single-season record with 49 stolen bases for the Stars in 1929. Josh Gibson holds the all-time home run record with 238 and Smokey Joe Williams struck out 1,571 batters in his 25-year career.

    “But more interesting, in my opinion, are some of the larger patterns we’ve found. So, for example we’ve put together the first comprehensive analysis of Negro League park effects, and incorporated that into our metrics,” Ashwill wrote. “We know which were the pitchers’ parks (Chicago’s Schorling Park, for example) and which were the hitters’ parks (Stars Park in St. Louis and the Catholic Protectory Oval in the Bronx, home of the New York Lincoln Giants). Because we compile fielding statistics, we’re able to know that, for example, Dobie Moore, the Kansas City Monarchs shortstop in the 1920s, was a great fielding shortstop. He was known to be a great hitter, but I don’t think it was fully appreciated how pivotal he was to the Monarchs’ defense.”

    Though there is more information on the Negro Leagues just a click away than ever before, there is still plenty of work to be done. Researchers are still looking to add fielding statistics, left/right splits and secondary pitching and batting stats for many Negro League seasons, especially those in the 1940s.

    “There’s a huge amount of information about Latin American baseball that still needs to be processed — Black Americans played professional baseball in Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela,” Ashwill said. “We will also be adding the Puerto Rican Winter League at some point.”

    Story on MLB.com: https://www.mlb.com/news/negro-leagues-statistical-database-uncovers-new-records

    H/t to Craig Calcaterra’s newsletter.

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