Adam Duvall had a heck of 2016 season. He hit 33 home runs in his first full season, was named to the NL All-Star team, and put on a good showing when he competed in the home run derby. Duvall of course was only the throw-in piece when the Reds traded just eight starts of Mike Leake at the 2015 trade deadline.


There has been much written about Duvall. There are many that think the Reds shouldn’t count on him as a main contributor on the Reds next contender. There are legitimate concerns about Duvall. While I am not sure if he will be the next superstar, I think he can be a solid contributor. Here is why:

1) Duvall’s power didn’t just come out of nowhere. I think this is somewhat of a misconception that Duvall hitting bombs left and right in 2016 was surprising. Between 2011-2015, Duvall hit 126 home runs in 571 games. He hit a total of 30 home runs in 2015 alone.

2) Duvall’s defense is actually really, really good in LF. All reports were that Adam Duvall was a pretty bad defensive third baseman, which is where he spent the majority of his time in the minors. This season in the outfield (mostly LF, but some RF), Duvall had 14 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which is only 1 less than Billy Hamilton (gasp). Duvall ranked 8th in DRS out of the 54 qualifiers. Duvall also ranked 8th in UZR/150 among OF at 10.4.

3) The big start, terrible finish narrative might have been a little over-emphasized. Duvall had a monster May, but hit .232/.296/.461 with a 95 wRC+ after. Sure, a 95 wRC+ is below average, but it is not by much. In August, Duvall put up a 111 wRC+, and even more encouraging was in August he by far his best month in terms of OBP (.343).

4) The walk rate got better as the year went on. When Adam Duvall had his best month of 2016 in May, he has a scary low 1.9 BB%. Duvall hit 11 bombs in May, and pretty much all of his production came from home runs. As the year went on, the home runs slowed down, but the walk rate went drastically up. In June it was 5.9%, in July it was 9.5%, in August it was 9.8%, and in September it was 7.3%. Obviously for Duvall, it would be nice if he could keep the BB% around league average (8.3%), while still hitting lots of homers. 2016 was literally his first full season in the big leagues, so he has room to grow.

5) Duvall is 28, not 38. I’ve seen a lot said about Duvall’s age. Sure, at 28 most players start to decline, but a player at 28 should still have several good years before they fall off the cliff. The Reds aren’t signing Duvall to 10 year deal, and only need him to be productive for a couple years. Duvall is under a team control until 2022, so the Reds have a 30 home run player for dirt cheap.

So again….Adam Duvall may not be a superstar in the making, but I’ll take a guy anytime that can hit 30 home runs and play good defense. And if he can find a way to keep his BB% rate up while still hitting bombs, watch out.

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

Join the conversation! 40 Comments

  1. 2 years of team control on a guy that might see his obp uptick just a bit. Even if he backs off to 25HR…he’s valuable. He’s cost value. The defense adds value. Now, had the Reds overpaid for this in free agency, or he been the plus of a lopsided trade…that’s another story.

    I’m not sure it matters if he’s an integral part of the next contender, becsuse if he’s pushed out, that only means there’s a better option.

    I believe he’s good to go for a little while, anyway. He’s just like a lot of players…they intrigue you…and you wish they’d patch some flaws.

  2. Nick I’ll agree that his defense was a suprises but question and defensive measure that puts him in same group as billy.

    • DRS is based on an average above or below the position. So, 14 DRS in LF is significantly less “good” than 14 DRS in CF, since CFers are better defenders on average.

  3. I think much of the criticism of Duvall is similar to everyone else on the team except Votto……that it’s a roster of 2.5 WAR guys—decent but flawed players. That gives you the makings of a .500 team, but to what end? At some point the rebuild needs to deliver some all-star level talent to the major league roster. Senzel comes to mind first. I would advocate packaging Cozart plus some of our redundant prospects plus some of this newfound money to acquire a cost controlled all-star caliber position player in order to solidify the core of our starting 8.

    All that said, Duvall has earned the chance to prove he can adjust now that the league has a book on him. Factoring in defense, his value is at least equal to Mark Trumbo, who made $9mil and is in line for a decent payday. Point being, like Votto, he is providing far more value than his salary.

    • Cozart to Seattle sounds like it might be rehashed over the winter. What all star caliber player would you suggest they get back.

      • It’s King Felix or nothing for Cozart. Let’s not give him away.

        • The M’s fans don’t want Cozart the way it is…id they dealt King Felix for him…they’d drown Jerry DiPoto in Puget Sound.

      • Or use Cozart and another prospect or two to try and pry away one of those Tampa Bay pitchers. Pretty sure they could use a shortstop

        • Chris Archer would be nice, but he has a team friendly contract. What’s in the water there…Longoria has a legendary contract.

        • The TB Rays have Brad Miller at SS, 30 HR’s and 83 RBI’s. However, they are very very thin at the C position. And could use a DH. Thinking Mesoraco

        • Trading anything of value for Mesoraco would be a fireable offense. He hasn’t played in 2 years, is owed 20 million and most of his career production occurred in a 2 month stretch in 2014. He could not be given away.

        • Oh I don’t know Chuck.
          TB could part with SP Alex Cobb who was injured in all of 2015 and most of 2016. He came back to pitch in 5 games in September to middling results. He has one arb. year left. Maybe TB could deal RP Brad Boxberger who was injured for a majority of 2016. TB won’t miss Boxberger as they have a new closer in Colome. Boxberger will be an arb-1 player this winter.
          Trading a risk for a risk. A contract for a contract. Reds might have to send some cash though.

    • I’m more inclined to wait until next winter and play out the 2017 season to see where the farm is. Take a page from Dayton Moore and maybe try to deal for a solid starter like James Shields was for KC. I want to give my scouting dept one more season and then step it up.

  4. First off: Boy was I wrong about Duvall. Second: How possible/probable is it for a 28 year old to improve his plate discipline? (just a question; not sarcasm)

    • Without a significant change in his plate approach, there is virtually no chance to improve his plate discipline. Coming up through the minor leagues, Duvall was a classic all-or-nothing slugger and that took him to the top of the minor league system, on the verge of making the jump to the major leagues.

      That’s where Duvall demonstrated what kind of a ball player he was. During last off season, Duvall dedicated himself to becoming a good defensive left fielder and made a drastic change in his plate approach by significantly compacting his swing. Duvall has already demonstrated a capability and willingness to make any necessary adjustments to his game. He did it again DURING last season when he made a concerted effort to improve his plate discipline, which he did successfully while competing DURING the season.

      Duvall has another full off season to work on melding his plate approach to impriove his plate discpine without sacrificing his power. If Duvall can hone his plate approach to acheive a 10% walk rate while maintaining 25 home run power, he may become a fixture as a starting corner OF.

      The short answer to your question is that Duvall didn’t have to change his plate approach prior to last season, but he recogonized that need last season and made a significant, drastic change. Most players do not have that capability. Duvall appears to be an exception to the rule. The jury is still out on how successful he can be with the 2017 season as his proving ground.

      • He did make an adjustment…Jim was pointing that out in a previous comment section. He seems capable of posting a .310 at least. We’re not going to likely see the second coming of Adam Dunn here…but that defense if it repeats is valuable.

        I’m just looking forward to maybe seeing him come to the plate in a few years when the team has grown from the minors and they are competitive..and thinking…”gosh, remember when outside of Votto..this was our guy?”

        Im ok with him sliding back into a less prominent role. He’s not really the guy that deserves to be blasted…not when you look a little,deeper.

        Jim mentioned that his legs might have tired in the second half.

        I want to see what happens in 17. I think hes closer to what we saw than a flameout. Maybe hes .310 obp with 40 2b and 25hr. Add that defense,and thats decent. I think we just dream of what he’d be with a .340 obp

  5. All good points Nick. I do think Duvall brings the Reds value. Even if that’s as 4th OF, power PH bat. I also think it would wise of the Reds to test the trade waters with Duvall to gage what the interest is. I don’t necessarily want the Reds to trade him, but selling high on him when you have a bunch of OF’ers coming up (Rodriguez, Ervin, Winker, Aquino) is probably the right way to play this if the right offer comes along.

    I wonder, and the answer is likely no, but are his May numbers sustainable if he doesn’t focus on walking? I’m such a proponent of getting on base that I’m hesitant to even throw that out there in the universe. But he absolutely crushed in May and then as the BB% went up the overall production did go down. I believe I heard a discussion (on tv or radio) about him moving up in the batter’s box and that helped him see/recognize pitches better. Which led to a better BB% but less power output. One month does not a career make, but it would be nice to see if there could be some replication.

    Beyond that, I do like the improvements to the BB% and if could keep making progress there while still making powerful contact, that’d be the best of both worlds.

    • I think his BB% going up and power going down only are partly attributable to a change in approach. I think pitchers were starting to work him much more carefully as well. He would have been swinging at an overwhelming number of bad pitches to maintain a walk rate of under 4%. I don’t think there’s any way he would have even had partial success. After May pitchers clearly were throwing him more pitches outside the zone. He still chased more than he should of but he showed enough discipline for me to think he could get around league average in the BB% department. That said, as a power hitter, with pitchers working around him often, his BB% should be above average but I think that’s probably hoping for too much. Even with a more disciplined approach, his pitch recognition is unlikely to get much better than it is right now.

  6. Duval was a pleasant surprise. His play in LF, while not spectacular, was solid. Duval is a good piece to have. But like many Reds players not named Votto, they are more or less #6, #7 or #8 hitters in most MLB lineups. Duval is a nice # 5-6 hitter. Suarez is a nice #6-7hitter, and Barnhart a nice #7-8 hitter. Peraza and Votto at #2 and #3 with BHam somewhere in the mix at #1 or #9. This offense is just two players away from being a good offense. Winker and Senzel aren’t the answers for those two spots for 2017 or 2018. Both will have to earn their stripes at first. By 2019 they will be solidly in the starting 8.

    • Fangraphs loved his defense…go look up those defensive metrics for what they are worth. Alex Gordon was injured…but he was outpacing him…maybe not with the arm. The stats wanna say he was electric defensively. I dont know. I see shift year to year in the defense.

      • Yes, still not too sure about the metrics for defense. Generally if the 3 biggies agree over the course of a full season, then you have to think that they are onto something. They are often erratic from year to year though so I’m not a huge buyer on using them as the primary measure of defensive capability. This is however very likely to change as Statcast data comes into play more and more. I think Statcast will revolutionize defensive metrics and make them a very reliable way to measure defensive ability.

    • If Senzel is the college bat as advertised…I think we see him in June of 18. College bat with upside can move fast. Guys like Ventura and Helton certainly did. We’ll see…but its a nice discussion to have. Maybe they full season him AA and AAA…who knows.

      • If Senzel has a good spring training, I think he’ll start out at AA, but that isn’t a guarantee. He possibly could start out at A+ Daytona, and if he hits like he did at Dayton, they’ll move him up quickly to AA. There are a few guys ahead of him at 3B that may start the season ahead of him at AA and AAA. But that won’t last long. Seth Mejias-Brean will be at AAA and Taylor Sparks at AA. Brandon Dixon is an in-betweener. Jagiello might not see 3B again and become solely a 1B. But like you said, who knows? Its all conjecture and speculation now.

  7. A lot of the discussion about Duvall has been framed in terms of how he does or does not fit into the picture given that Winker is looming on the threshold.

    I pointed on another thread that it is now more than 2 years since Winker’s wrist injury; and, his power has yet to return. In the season when Winker suffered the wrist injury and was subsequently shut down with more than a month left in that season, he hit 15HR and slugged at .518 over 349PAs split between A+ and AA. In the two full seasons since in 974 PAs split roughly evenly between AA and AAA, Winker has hit a combined 16HRs and slugged at about a .400 rate. What he has done despite the power drop off is maintain an OBP of also just less than .400

    Thus I think the Reds need to start the season with Winker at AAA and Duvall in LF on the MLB team. What happens with both of them in the first couple of months as Winker works his way out of future Super2 status will hopefully provide insight about how the team should proceed. It could be a very interesting choice if things come down to choosing between two guys giving them similar low to mid 800 level OPS production but one doing it at age 23 almost totally based on OBP while the other at age 28 does it primary with slugging.

    • He injured his wrist in June of this year. It hasn’t been two years. The power should come back.

      • Winker’s wrist was originally injured in an auto accident early July of 2014.
        Here is the link to CTrent’s article written in late July of 2014 written when Winker was shutdown for the 2104 season in late July of 2014.

        The club was very mum in offering details of the injury which happened in 2016. However it was the same wrist/ hand as was injured in 2014; and, the record clearly shows that Winker’s power since the original injury (now two full seasons behind him) has been barely a shadow of what it was before.

        • While there is some cause for mild concern here with the re-injuring of his wrist this season, I think we may be making this out to be more than it is. I heard no whispers that this years injury was directly related to the initial injury in 2014, and thus there is no hint thus far that this may be a chronic thing. But then again, they don’t share everything with us, so I do have some mild concern, but not that much.

          As for Winker not SLG since, I don’t completely agree. Remember that both .500+ SLG seasons early on in his career came in Billings and Bakersfield which are both extreme hitters leagues. He’s shown flashes of power in the two seasons since the injury, albeit sporadically. So yeah I have some mild concern about the wrist and lack of power, but I really think he will be fine and be more consistent next season.

          2014 AZFL .559

          2015 Jun .476
          2015 Aug-Sep .591

          2016 Apr .438
          2016 Jun .486 in 10 G before wrist injury
          2016 Aug-Sep .424

          I expect Winker to become a .280/.380/.420/.800 guy in the majors. I just hope they are smart enough to stick him in the #2 hole and leave him there when he arrives.

      • I know he’s injured it more than once. You were saying it’s more than two years old. It’s not, the latest injury occurred less than six months ago. Same wrist but not the same injury. And his power did return in between, he had an ISO of 151 in 2015 which is a solid ISO. He posted a 137 wRC+ that year, his first full season in AA. Just correcting some false information. That’s all.

        • Winker’s accounts of the injury from 2014 and 2016 sound almost the same.

          He didn’t realize it was injured. Something just didn’t feel quite right. He thought he could play through it but over a period of a couple of weeks realized he couldn’t.

          If it had been a clean break, traumatic injury in 2016, I could be persuaded there was no connection to what happened in 2014. However given that it just sort of “sneaked” up on him this time and he hasn’t slugged with sustained power approaching what he did before in two full seasons since the first occurrence, I think it is being extremely optimistic to believe the two injuries are unrelated and that he might not be predisposed to future problems of the same sort.

          Here’s the progression:

          In 2014 he slugged .580 and hit 13 HR in 249PA’s at A+ before the injury. He slugged .318 and hit 2HR in 92PA’s at AA post injury

          In 2015 in a full year AA and supposedly recovered, he slugged .433 with 13HR in 526PA’s

          In 2016 in a full year at AAA (less rookie league rehab stint) he slugged .384 with 3HR in 448PA’s

        • “In 2014 he slugged .580 and hit 13 HR in 249PA’s at A+ before the injury. He slugged .318 and hit 2HR in 92PA’s at AA post injury”

          Please remember to consider the Bakersfield Cal league park factors on his 2014 A+ numbers. He’ll never be the slugger that his numbers there may make you want to believe. He then began playing in AA Pensacola on June 19th and the car accident was in early July, so his low slugging there was mostly amassed pre wrist injury. He then tried playing through what he thought was post accident soreness up through the All Star Futures game he played in and was then shut down for the season after the wrist continued to be sore and they checked it and found the partial tendon tear. Also, lets not ignore the 2014 AZFL .559 SLG he put up later that fall.

          “In 2015 in a full year AA and supposedly recovered, he slugged .433 with 13HR in 526PA’s”

          Let’s also note here that it could just be a matter of figuring out the league and not a wrist issue. Pre all star 3 HR and .248/.352/.349/.700 and Post all star 10 HR and.316/.426/.516/.941.

          “In 2016 in a full year at AAA (less rookie league rehab stint) he slugged .384 with 3HR in 448PA’s”

          Yeah he did not slug as much as expected this year but did show flashes with a .438 SLG in Apr, a sore wristed .486 SLG in June, and .424 SLG Aug-Sep. Not as much or consistent as one would hope for, but it took a bit for him to solve AA as well.

          “However given that it just sort of “sneaked” up on him this time”

          Not true. In a Sep. Zach Buchanen article:

          “A wrist injury early in the season probably didn’t help. His wrist started bothering him in late May when the team visited Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he was able to manage the pain. But two games into a road series against Pawtucket in mid-June, he wasn’t able to hold a bat.”

          In a quote from DeShields in a different article:

          “He was hurting pretty bad. He said he felt it on a swing when we were in Syracuse–like the first game in Syracuse. It’s been bothering him ever since,” explained DeShields.

          That means he re-injured the wrist in SWB on May 24th. So they know exactly when it happened and attempted to play through it through June 12th. And surprisingly, he slugged .486 in those 10 games in early June with the sore wrist, go figure.

          I have mild concern over the wrist injury and the possible affect on his SLG, but I’m far from convinced it’s a lingering issue and I believe his SLG will come back around somewhat, but I have no expectation that he’s a .500 SLG kind of guy. I expect he’ll be a 12-15 HR kind of guy to SLG around .420-.430.

    • The thing is there’s just a wee bit of difference between AAA pitching and the big leagues. Major league pitchers are usually not going to nibble around and walk a guy that isn’t driving the ball.

    • The question about Winker’s power is one issue. The other is the suspicion (based entirely on stuff you guys at RLN know and I don’t) that he sounds like a one-dimensional player: Doesn’t field very well, doesn’t throw very well, doesn’t run very well. A DH, in other words. I’d still wait and see, since he sounds like the hitter the Reds need, but before somebody brings up Votto, Votto plays first, not outfield, and does do the most important defensive job of a first baseman (catch throws, including off-target throws) well, and Votto is one of the best hitters in the game for years.

      • Something that seems to get missed about Votto is that in 2013, the season when Votto was supposedly down on power, he still slugged at .491. Winker’s not been within 50 points of that since his season split between A+/AA. Winker’s OPB hasn’t been north of .400 since A+. Votto’s OBP hasn’t been south of .410 since 2010 except for partial season at A+, Winker’s OPB has never been quite been .400.

        Based on his AA and AAA full seasons, Winker has some growing to do; and the place for that to start is AAA not MLB.

        • “Based on his AA and AAA full seasons, Winker has some growing to do; and the place for that to start is AAA not MLB.”

          On point! Let’s not repeat the Billy Hamilton syndrome and promote a potentially valuable major league player before he is ready. I certainly don’t have any insight to the pending changes in the CBA (although the implementatino of an international draft by 2018 is very encouraging for small to mid market teams), but based on the current agreement, the small to mid market teams can not afford to give up years of peak production from a player in return for years of development at the major league level because the player was promoted prematurely.

          Winker’s wrist may be a chronic, career limiting factor or Winker may just need to make up for some lost development time due to the wrist injury. I have no problem with Winker playing a corner OF position for the Bats until he proves his value going forward, even if that value is limited by the wrist injury. If Winker is again stinging doubles up the gaps and hitting a few HR by the all star break, I’m ready to see what he can do in the show, but if he is still slapping singles and getting on base at an elite level by the all start break, I’m in no rush to promote him unless there is an opening for a corner OF position at the major league level and Winker is best available option. If Winker’s ceiling at the major league level becomes 280/.380/.360 rather than .280/.380/.460, I’m good with Winker hitting in the #2 hole at the major league level. On base skills in the Reds lineup is still a glaring weakness.

          • Yes, one of the ironies of the situation is that even if Winker fell off his MiLB OBP rates by 5-10% at MLB, which would not be unusual, his .350-.370 MLB OBP would still be among the Reds best. I get it that this is the appeal to those wanting to push him on up. The other side of the coin is that if he is doing that OBP with .400ish slugging percent while occupying a corner OF spot, the team then has to make up an OF slugging deficit somewhere else in the lineup. That certainly could be done over time; but leave Winker at AAA to start with in order to get a better feel of exactly what his power profile is going to be.

  8. 2017 will tell us what we need to know about Duvall. Mechanically he’s compact to the ball and doesn’t have a long/complicated swing which is half of the battle.

    Look at Mike Napoli for example…..age 28 was the first time he had 450+ atbats and hit .238 with 26 HRs (784 ops), 42 walks & 137 Ks. He’s now at a career .352 obp and had 78 walks this year. To say a guy declines at 28 when thats when he got started is a little ridiculous imo. That’s just guessing at this point.

  9. I’m with you, Nick. Thanks for the nice sensible column. The reds have finally filled that troubling LF position. Duvall can hit, has power, and can field. He has the position for the next few years. There is no sense moving him now. We have him, cheap, until one of the youngsters clearly emerges and ousts him. There is no sense getting rid of a solid everyday player to make room for promise based on optimistic forecasts that may never be realized.

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About Nick Kirby

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.


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