It’s time for the Atlanta Braves to move on from Adam Duvall

The Atlanta Braves may need to consider moving on from the fan-favorite outfielder if things don't improve soon.

Atlanta Braves outfielder Adam Duvall's having a horrible year at the plate, and it's time to move on.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Adam Duvall's having a horrible year at the plate, and it's time to move on. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves' season opened with Jarred Kelenic starting against righties and Duvall playing against lefties, but things changed after Acuña’s season-ending injury. Duvall stepped into an everyday role, and Kelenic started every day, no matter which arm to pitcher favored. Kelenic responded by batting .240 against same-sided pitchers and driving the ball to all parts of the park. Duvall, however, headed in the other direction.

Entering Tuesday's game, Duvall is doing what they hired him to do, batting .275/.393/.565 with six homers, 16 RBI, and a .958 OPS. That’s the good news, but the bad news is so bad his numbers against lefties are relatively unimportant.

Adam Duvall has DFA-worthy numbers

How bad is it? Well, among all players with at least 160 plate appearances, Duvall’s:

  • .169 BA is 233rd
  • .253 OBP is 222nd just below Atlanta shortstop Orlando Arcia
  • .310 SLG % ranks 217th

His advanced stats tell a similar story. Duvall’s 61 wRC+ is tied for 223rd, his .255 wOBA 222nd, and his –0.2 fWAR is tied for 210th. 

Against righties, Duvall might as well be a pitcher. He’s 7-86 facing same-sided throwers, good for (really, it’s bad for) a .081/.122/.105/.227 line that ranks 381st - dead last in every stat.

Well, at least his defense is Gold Glove-caliber? Nope. None of the defensive metrics rate Duvall highly. Defensive Runs saved gives him -2 in right field and 1 in left. Fangraphs UZR gives him 0.3 in right field and –0.4 in left field. Statcast mirrors those, giving him 1 OAA in right field and –1 OAA in left field. Overall, Fangraphs gives him an overall –55 grade for defense.

If this were any other player, he’d been in the minors or a free agent by now. It’s past time to change things.

What options do the Braves have to replace Duvall?

The Braves have players on the bench and in the system to fill the gap. If the club wants to be loyal and keep Duvall available to face lefties, they can slide Brian Anderson into the lineup against right-handed pitching.

Anderson was batting .270/.358/.439/.797 in Triple-A before the Mariners released him, and batted .300/.362/.410/.772 with two homers against RHP. He has a reverse split which would make keeping Duvall logical. Either that or the team could look to make a move for a left-handed bat to platoon with Duvall since Kelenic has become the everyday center fielder for Atlanta.

Forrest Wall is batting .283/.393/.416/.809 overall and and .281/.392/.430/.821 against RHP for Gwinnett. He’s also batting a respectable .283/.389/.370/.759 against lefties.

Wall was called up by the Braves on Monday after Michael Harris II landed on the IL. He started for the team on Monday evening against the Tigers and played left field. He ended up driving in the game-tying run for the Braves in the bottom of the seventh.

The lineup's starting to crush the ball again, and the other black hole in the ranks, Orlando Arcia, offers the defense to offset his inconsistent bat. Keeping Duvall to face lefties and hoping he figures something out creates another unnecessary weakness in the lineup. Duvall's history shows that he needs consistent plate appearances to remain effective, and he wouldn’t get many PAs in that role.

Adam Duvall’s been both a blessing and a curse for the Atlanta Braves and came through in some critical situations for the team. He’s never been as consistently good as many remember him; he’s 35 and played more than 92 games in a Major League season once since 2018.

It appears the Braves keep running him out there hoping he’ll get hot until they can acquire a better option at the deadline. Maybe he will, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet against it.

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