Off-hand I cannot think of many players who have had the career trajectory that Duvall has had. He was drafted in 2010 by the San Francisco Giants in the 11th round, before making his Major League Baseball debut with the Giants in 2014. He played 28 games that season as they went on to win the World Series. In 2015 he started the season in Triple-A and was later traded to the Cincinnati Reds in part of a package that brought Mike Leake to the Giants. He played another 27 games with the Reds that season, before becoming a full-time player with the Reds in 2016 and establishing himself as one of the most exciting power hitters. In 2016 and 17 Duvall hit for a combined 64 home runs and 202 runs batted in. Then in 2018, things fell apart for Duvall. He hit .195 for the Reds, and his power also disappeared but most things in his underlying numbers remained relatively constant with everything from his flyball rate, his contact rate, and just about every underlying stat was within a few percentage points of his two previous years where he had a reasonable average in the .250 range while putting up 30+ home run power. This left baseball fans, and fantasy managers alike wondering if the previous two seasons were an aberration, or if 2018 was the fluke. Skip forward to 2021 and Duvall is now on his fourth team after being traded to the Atlanta Braves, being non-tendered, and signing a one-year contract with the Miami Marlins. Then the power came back in a big way hitting 38 that season between the Marlins and the Braves (whom he got traded back to), so let us take a close look to try and understand what causes Duvall’s play to be so volatile and which version of Duvall we should expect moving forward.


One of the more interesting things about Duvall’s offensive profile is that based on his Statcast numbers you can certainly put together a case for him to be a great player if he was just coming up from the minor leagues for the first time. For one minute forget everything you might know about him as a player and think about these numbers. Adam Duvall is 6’1”, 215 pounds and in 2022 is in the 62nd percentile in maximum exit velocity, the 67th percentile in sprint speed, and the 74th percentile of barrel percentage. All of this on its own sounds pretty good. I’m not certain anyone would argue that Duvall is physically gifted, maybe not in the same category as his teammate Ronald Acüna Jr. (that is pretty rarified air), but Duvall is talented nonetheless. The issue with Duvall as a player though is that he really struggles to stay locked in and make consistent contact. If I told you that a Major League veteran of nearly ten years couldn’t consistently hit a fastball, you might not believe me, but in four of the last five seasons, Duvall has managed to have a batting average below .200 on four-seam fastballs. One season he was barely over that mark at .210, and one where he managed to hit .326 on them. There are actually only two pitches that he has had regular success hitting in that period of time, and those are cutters and sinkers. When you factor in his average launch angle in his career of 22.1 degrees you can really see how that, paired with his barrel percentage, leads to him hitting for power, especially on those sinkers. This is likely where many of his home runs come from as he is going to put a lot of balls in the air so that type of pitch and its trajectory is not going to be a recipe for success for pitchers facing him.

Certainly, as you have seen, no one can deny Adam Duvall’s ability to hit for power, and when he gets hot he can be a difference-maker, but his overall profile and his inability to consistently hit the fastball will leave you with a lot of frustration, especially if you’re playing in points and head-to-head formats where his career 28 percent strikeout rate is going to hurt you on a consistent basis. If you’re playing in roto leagues he can make some sense if you are willing to gamble on him getting hot as the power will be there, but he comes with significant risks. And with that, if you’re a team who is either at the top of the standings or is in striking distance of the top, that kind of risk likely isn’t going to be worth it for you, so I could only recommend acquiring if you’re in the middle of the pack and you feel like you need significant help in the power categories.


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