Atlanta Braves: What to do about Adam Duvall?

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 05: Adam Duvall #23 of the Atlanta Braves fails to catch this single hit by Christian Vazquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning at SunTrust Park on September 5, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 05: Adam Duvall #23 of the Atlanta Braves fails to catch this single hit by Christian Vazquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning at SunTrust Park on September 5, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The 30-year-old Atlanta Braves-turned-AAA outfielder is currently on a torrid streak with the bat in Gwinnett.

I have to admit, I was relatively excited last July when I heard the news that Adam Duvall was coming to the Atlanta Braves. I didn’t know much about him at first, but once I looked at his numbers from previous seasons — the power he provided was very attractive.

64 home runs over two seasons (’16 and ’17) was some serious pop, and at the time, and the Braves were in need of it. The strikeout-rates and the poor batting average wasn’t much of a concern, as obviously it wasn’t planned for Duvall to be in an everyday role.

At the time of the trade with the Reds, Ender Inciarte was struggling mightily against left-handed pitching, and the Braves saw an opportunity to improve on that. They made a decent choice in settling on Duvall. In 2017, he batted .279 against lefties, with 10 home runs and 11 doubles.

The decision at the time was totally sound, and I think we can all agree that no one had any idea how bad it would end up being for Duvall. And I don’t wanna spend too much time re-hashing just how bad his time with the Braves was in 2018, but it has to at least be brought up.

Last season, in 33 games with the Braves, Duvall finished with a .344 OPS.

That’s not batting average; not on-base percentage; that was his on-base plus slugging-percentage.

There are numerous pitchers in the big leagues that have a better OPS than that. It was very bad and we remember it perfectly, so let’s move on.

Nowhere to Go but Way, Way Up

So now to the good parts. Duvall started the 2019 season in Gwinnett after having a not-so-good Spring, but much better than his short stint in 2018 with the Braves (.623 OPS with 2 HR).

His start with Gwinnett this season was nothing special and it actually took him 14 games until he hit his first homer. But starting around the time of April 11, Duvall started consistently hitting.

Now, with four weeks completed, Duvall has put up excellent numbers, thanks to a crazy hot week. Over the past 8 games (through Monday), Duvall has recorded a hit in all of them, including 7 of his 8 home runs this season. In fact, he’s currently in the midst of a 5-game home run streak.

All of this exceptional play lately has produced the following 2019 season stats:

  • 25 games
  • .312 batting average
  • 8 home runs
  • 7 doubles
  • 2 triples
  • 12 BB / 17 K

He’s been a leader for Gwinnett, alongside third baseman Austin Riley and Rafael Ortega. And because of Duvall’s crazy week, the Stripers went 6-1 this past week and are now 15-10 while taking over 1st place in the South Division.

Duvall’s running a .303 BABIP at the moment, so this doesn’t seem to be just pure luck. With 167 wRC+, Duvall seems to have made an adjustment, and there’s a chance it could stick.

In comparison to 2018, Duvall seems to be pulling the ball a tad more with a 52% pull-rate as opposed to 47% last season in Atlanta. I don’t have his Hard% numbers since he’s been in the minors, but I would imagine he’s hitting the ball harder than his 36.6-percent in 2018.

What stands out the most, though, is his plate-discipline. Duvall has a career walk-rate of 6.9%, and at the moment he’s walking at an 11.7% clip. The strikeouts paint the same picture: 27.1% career versus just 15.5% in 2019.

Without more in-depth numbers it’s difficult to precisely determine what Duvall has done differently at the plate, unless you can watch all of his games in Gwinnett. But he’s changed something, and I think it has to do with his approach and mentality.

He seems to have gotten rid of the whole “sell out for power” strategy, and is more interested in making contact and taking his walks.

More from Tomahawk Take

We will find out over the course of the season whether or not this will at all stick. But it does raise some interesting questions; questions that I have seen several readers bring up in the comments section of some previous articles.

So let’s talk about it. Given how hot Adam Duvall’s bat is right now, and the fact that Ender Inciarte is banged up — should the Braves recall Adam Duvall?

(Update:  Inciarte pinch-hit in Tuesday night’s game, so he’s clearly close to a return)

Is it time to give him a second chance at proving himself as a part-time player? Or, should the Braves leave him in Gwinnett and hope that he can continue to play well up to the All-Star Break, giving him some trade value?

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Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.