Braves 2021 Player Review: Adam Duvall


I’ve written a lot about Adam Duvall over the years. From 2018:

Duvall’s job in Cincinnati was to hit a home run a week; a rare and useful skill.

Adam Duvall – Braves Journal

Also from 2018:

“Duvall’s low average game requires at-bats to provide sufficient opportunities for offsetting power…”

Unit Recap – Bench – Braves Journal

From 2020:

You’ve got to eat a lot of Cracker Jacks to get to the prize with Adam…

Braves 2020 Player Review: Adam Duvall – Braves Journal

And from 2021:

Adam is like a slot machine – you have to put a lot of quarters in before you get a jackpot, but you can’t walk away from it.

Braves 5, Nationals 4 – Braves Journal

Finishing 3rd in the NL in home runs in 2020 was not enough to motivate the Braves to invest in bringing Adam Duvall back for 2021. Adam signed with the Marlins in February, where he hit 22 homers before the Braves traded Alex Jackson on July 30th to get him back.

Duvall continued to do his thing in Atlanta, hitting 16 more homers to finish the season 2nd in the NL with 38, (a homer and a half per week, if you’re counting) and leading the NL in RBIs with 113. It was Duvall’s 3rd 30 homer season, the first coming at age 27.

As alluded, when Adam is not homering, he is generally making a lot of outs. Duvall’s 2021 season was pretty typical: a .228/.281/.491 Batting Average / On Base % / Slugging % relative to his career numbers of .232/.291/.473. Duvall’s most similar hitters include Miguel Sano at number 1, and the legendary Bo Jackson at number 2. (Joc Pederson is number 3, and Jorge Soler number 6. AA certainly has a type, doesn’t he?)

Billy, man, um, there’s one thing you’re forgetting. None of those three guys knows how to play first base.

Ron Washington, Moneyball

I like to imagine Wash telling Alex Anthopoulos “None of these guys play center field, either” after Duvall, Soler, and Eddie Rosario were acquired at the trade deadline, to go along with the earlier acquisition of Pederson. Duvall ended up out there, and did a passable job. He led the league in OF Total Zone Runs with 19, racking up 11 in right field, (where he was awarded the Gold Glove) 6 in left, and 3 more in center. His range factor per 9 innings in center was 2.26, slightly below league average. He only had 25 starts in center field; hence I’m not sure how precisely his defense there can be measured, but I don’t remember any real episodes where I thought he was hurting the Braves in center field.

Duvall turned 33 in September. When Adam stops hitting homers, his days as a useful offensive player will be over. Duvall is the oldest of the 4 new outfielders, but also the best defender. Despite being injured in right field, it seems like the Braves still want to keep Ronald Acuna Jr. away from the wear and tear of center field, and Cristian Pache will still be only 23 in 2022. Soler and Rosario are better bets to continue to produce offensively, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a defensive outfielder on the roster who might hit a homer a week.

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.

36 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Adam Duvall”

  1. Interesting tidbit from Robert Murray (here’s whole piece if interested:

    Atlanta Braves rumors:
    The expectation remains that the Braves will eventually re-sign Freddie Freeman, but in letting him test the free-agent market, they risked losing him to another team. They also risked a deal becoming more expensive with the other 29 teams able to get involved in the bidding.

    The floor for Freeman’s new deal has always been Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million contract. Among the potential fits include the Yankees and Angels, with one evaluator believing the Dodgers are a logical landing spot if they move Max Muncy to second base. But with five high-profile free agents of their own, such a scenario feels unlikely.

    One additional item on the Braves: While Freeman is clearly their No. 1 priority, sources say that general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been aggressively working the phones. Something to keep an eye on in the coming days and weeks.

  2. I am reminded of Chipper Jones’ story about Troy Glaus. When Chipper offered to help Glaus with his swing, Glaus turned down the offer and said “All I’m looking for is 40 good swings a year.” You get about 100 good swings a year from Adam, and about a third of them leave the park. I’m not saying that Adam is nearly as selfish as that… indeed, I suspect he has done a lot of stuff to try and make himself different at the plate. But the evidence is that he hasn’t found anything that works.

  3. @1 I’ve agreed for a long time that Goldy’s offer has always been the best deal to compare Freddie’s future deal for, and they’ve already beaten it. I think Atlanta gets a deal done with Freddie. I don’t think there’s any evidence he’s seriously considering any other teams.

  4. Great job, Rusty.

    I’d love Duvall as opening day CF, and depending on what happens with Pache and Waters, the best man can keep the job through 2022. But I agree that the moment he stops hitting homers, his career is over. I don’t think he’d even be useful as a backup OF at that point. If he’s lost power at the plate, he’s likely lost his defensive ability as well. But I’m sure he has one more yeae.

  5. Duvall is a great 4th OF on a contending team. He also buys you some time for Acuna to ease back.
    I’d like to have Duvall, Rosario, Acuna and Bryan Reynolds as our primary OFers and Soler as DH.

    I think 400-500 ABs is about where you want Duvall

  6. With Reynolds having one half season less control, I’d love to see if what we offered for Reynolds at the deadline would get a deal done now.

  7. Duvall is the ultimate 2 true outcome player at the plate, but when it pays off, it pays off. He is more than a credible outfielder (even if the GG was a bit dubious.) Especially after last offseason, I think you have to take a $9MM flyer on him this time. Nice bench piece, if nothing else; helps bridge the CF gap until Acuna comes back or we find another for the position; and (I think) plays a pretty darn good LF.

  8. If getting Duvall means we are out on Soler and/or Rosario then I am a no. I probably lean towards no anyway as I think there are better ways to allocate your resources.

    I also am starting to fear that if $27 mill a year isn’t enough for Freddie, then we are actually kind of deciding between keeping Freeman or keeping some combo of Swanson, Riley and/or Fried. At least 2 of those are gone most likely if Freddie gets 6/180 from Atlanta.

  9. Given the makeup of this team, having an Adam Duvall-type hitting 6th (or 7th, even) works just fine.

    Got some versatility to go with a relatively good price… and don’t forget that great catch vs. LA’s Lux in the NLCS. Power guys who can play CF don’t just grow on trees.

    Not a crucial player, but still a valuable piece, especially if the gamble pays off that he maintains his numbers for another year.

  10. @ 11,

    But reports say Freeman is at 6 years, 200 million. I am not sure how reliable those are. But that is 33 million AAV AND 6 years. Though I am probably less player friendly as a general rule than many on this site, I am not scared of $30 million for 5 years. I would do maybe 10 mill bonus up front, then 30, 27, 24, 24, 23 and then an opt out and then 10 and 10. Once you go past there, it begins to impact things the team needs to do to stay competitive.

  11. Duvall has established as of last year that he is not worse than a slightly below average centerfielder and a slightly above average hitter. If you get those 2 with the positional adjustment, he is a 2.5 WAR or so player. That is cheap for 9 million.

    Then, if he explodes this year (like 130 OPS plus) and holds his fielding, you have the option to make a qualifying offer.

  12. Chipper going after Boras:

  13. @8 That is often overlooked. He is the 2nd fastest player on the team, behind only Ronald. At age 33 he is faster than both Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. I was shocked when I read that fact.

    I don’t there is any doubt that Duvall comes back next year. I think he gets a 1 year arb offer of something like 9M.

    @5 He was the starting CF on the Word Series champs last year.

  14. Would love to see Soler back next year along with Duvall for the outfield. Marte would be outstanding, but I don’t think they outbid the big boys for him.

    Ideal offseason free agents: Freddie, Marte, Duvall, Graveman, Adrianza plus filler players. It’s a wish list. I know it won’t happen unless the LM purse strings are wide open. I’m also guessing they get a one year starter like Verlander instead of Marte.

  15. I know the “getting [injured player] back will be just like signing a big free agent” line is a cliche, but I mean… Acuna.

    We’ve got to fill out OF/ bench – would love to have Duvall/ Soler/ Rosario back but if that’s not doable, get a CF.

    If we’re going to spend $$ on someone who’s not already in the organization, I’d get another SP. Someone who can eat innings -basically the thing they signed Smyly to do, except with success badge unlocked.

    Honestly I wouldn’t turn up my nose at a new C either, with TAD becoming the backup. Not a must, but it’d be nice.

  16. I think Rosario will be back and Duvall, but I’m less certain about Soler, who is actually my favorite of the 3. Unfortunately, I think Soler’s faith will already be decided before the Braves know Ozuna’s situation.

  17. One quibble on BRef’s most similar hitters list: as I understand it, it’s comparing Duvall’s numbers for his career so far to Bo’s numbers for his whole career and Sano’s, Joc’s, and Soler’s for their careers so far (Duvall was 32, while Bo played through his age-31 year & the other three were 28, 29, and 29). Duvall’s best comps through his current age of 32 are Ron Kittle, Brandon Moss, Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni, and Russell Branyan, though I’m not sure why Bo isn’t included since his similarity score was higher than those of Kittle et al. & it was also his through-age-32 similarity score even though he didn’t play at 32.

    It’s not related except that I found it while poking around lists of similarity scores starting with Duvall, but former Brave Justin Upton’s three most similar batters (their full careers compared to his career so far) are Ron Gant, Reggie Sanders, and Jermaine Dye. His most similar batter through his current age of 33 is Dale Murphy.

  18. I think the Braves should ease in Pache as a 4th outfielder. He should get 2-3 starts a week. Use the free agents who return to cover LF and CF as the starters. If Soler returns he is a DH.

  19. @20 – That is correct; BRef has similarity score lists for careers, through the player’s current age, and at each age. I thought the career list was the most interesting. Through the player’s current age may be more informative.

  20. I know it was reported that Duvall is faster than Dansby and Ozzie and even Rosario, but has that been verified? I guess it could be true, but it’s very hard for me to believe.

  21. I don’t find myself in agreement with my idol Chipper in this particular case, but man I absolutely love that that dude speaks his mind.

    Man, Chipper’s a weird guy. Played his whole career for one team, left a ton of money on the table, deliberately didn’t hire the best agent, and continually takes a pro-owner, anti-player position. The man thinks for himself. Gotta respect it.

  22. @19 I would love to see Soler back too. Not sure they can afford both Rosario and Soler but that would be great. Marte could probably be had for the cost of both of them together. Maybe. I think Ozuna is done with the Braves regardless of what happens. It disgusts me that he got a WS ring.

    The main reason I think Duvall is a given is that he can play CF and he can be brought back for 1 year only. Wouldn’t mind Heredia as bench filler again.

  23. @26,

    A. The brewers back up catcher signed today by Braves for 2years at 4 each with a pure team option for year 3 at 4.
    B. A signal that the Braves are convinced that neither of Contreras nor Lageliers can cover back up in 2022.

  24. @30 Agreed. Especially since Pina has never earned more than 1.7M before. To me, this seems like an admission that one of Soler or Rosario will not be back (certainly not Vogt). This may be an attempt to get TdA some ABs as DH like they did in 2020. I don’t think Contreras is ready enough to be a backup. He never did regain his footing in the majors even after he did well at AAA.

    Also, Pina is Venezuelan. I think the Braves have an affinity for Venezuelans to give the other Venzuelans a sense of connection and community – includes Acuna, Contreras, Arcia, Adrianza. I’d like to think Pina could mentor Contreras defensively.

    This might be all we get until we get Freddie signed and know what the result of the Ozuna affair will be monetarily

  25. Can Piña throw out runners? I’m guessing Contreras is available for trade in the right deal. Langeliers is likely untouchable with his defense.

    As usual AA isn’t sitting around waiting. Wouldn’t be surprised to see more moves upcoming.

  26. Not a bad signing. We’re set at catcher now. This will spare us from the Kevan Smith, Jonathan Lucroy, Jeff Mathis and Stephen Vogt experience. I had truly forgotten how many back-up catchers we went through.

  27. Probably, but overpaying by $1 million or so at backup catcher isn’t a bad use of resources, given the horrifying alternatives.

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