What an odd season it was for Adam Duvall.
During the summer of 2018, many people, including this very blog, were quite excited to add the slugging outfielder to the roster. Things did not go to plan — he didn’t even make a putrid bench for the 2018 NLDS — and many figured Duvall would be non-tendered by the Braves last winter, especially at a decent $3 million price tag.
The Braves opted to tender Duvall for 2019. And despite a poor showing in Spring Training in which he was barely making contact with the ball, the club still opted to fully guarantee his salary and sent him to Gwinnett to continue getting at bats. Let’s look back on his wonky season.
2019 statline: 41 games, .267/.315/.567, 121 wRC+, 10 HR, 19 RBI, 17 R, 0.7 WAR
What went right in 2019?
Duvall took the demotion to Triple-A in stride and mashed with the Stripers, hitting 32 long balls and showing he was ready for another chance with the Braves. It would take an injury for him to get the call, and that’s exactly what happened when Nick Markakis suffered a broken wrist on July 27.
Duvall came up and instantly made an impact, homering in five of his first seven games, including two dingers against the Nationals on July 30 in a wild 11-8 win. His bat would cool off significantly after that, but he continued to see semi-frequent at bats and starts in the outfield with Markakis and Ender Inciarte ailing.
Duvall was arguably the Braves’ MVP of the NLDS in a losing effort, crushing a two-run homer off Jack Flaherty in Game 2 to secure a 3-0 victory. SunTrust Park erupted.
Duvall would be the hero once again in Game 3, hitting a two-run single to center to cap off the Braves’ 9th inning comeback in a winning effort.
What went wrong in 2019?
Ideally the Braves would have been able to utilize Duvall’s services all season long. I’m sure Duvall would’ve preferred to be in Atlanta all year, too, but he took his demotion (and fully guaranteed contract) to Gwinnett in stride and kept himself ready. He answered the call when Markakis went down and provided a surge as the bats cooled during the final two months of the season.
What to expect in 2020?
I would assume Duvall, who would make $4 million or so in arbitration next year, will have a similar offseason to last year. The Braves will tender him a non-guaranteed deal, and barring injury, he has a decent chance of making the roster next spring. It will be interesting to see what Alex Anthopoulos does with the outfield this winter; will they allow for Duvall to be utilized in a platoon situation? Do they hand him a starting job outright? Or does the presence of, say, Austin Riley make Duvall redundant? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.