2022 Braves Player Review: Adam Duvall

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And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will,
I predict this hotel will be standing until I pay my bill.

Warren Zevon, Desperados Under the Eaves

I’ll add to that prediction that I will still be writing player reviews of Adam Duvall, even if it’s just his grandson’s Little League games (Adam III stands facing the infield on almost every pitch, a rare and useful skill.) You can see everything I’ve written previously about Adam here.

Duvall turned 34 in September on the disabled list after season-ending surgery on a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist in July. He put up a .213/.276/.401 line in 86 games, with 12 homers among his 287 at-bats. Given more than 15 weeks, he may have approached his career averages of .230/.289/.465.

Ryan wrote about Adam and the rest of outfield here. Although Duvall is notoriously streaky anyway, I find Ryan’s theory about being worn down from playing center field plausible.

A combination of being a good enough defensive corner outfielder to play a passable center field, and a home run a week has paid Adam’s bills for 9 seasons now. A season removed from 38 homers, leading the league in RBIs, and a Gold Glove, the big question for me is how well Adam will heal from the wrist injury at age 34, and recover from the missed at-bats.

Bet the statistics, root for the mystics.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

27 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Adam Duvall”

  1. I like Adam a lot, personally – he’s an easy guy to root for, plays good defense and hits homers. But he just makes so many outs. And like you, I’m worried he’s hitting his turning-into-a-pumpkin age years. I just can’t get excited about bringing him back.

  2. @2 – I reluctantly have to agree with you. Given the way he plays and seemed to make strides for Atlanta, he has seemed about 28 or 29. When you realize he’s 34 and his best playing days are behind him, I can’t get excited about bringing him back either.

  3. I don’t know anything about this specific type of wrist injury, but wrist and hand injuries make me nervous.

  4. I get spendy when I get drunk. So I was drunk one night and decided to buy a bunch of copies of this book:

    https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/nebraska/9781496225047/

    Clayton is a good guy and I wanted to support his good work on Atlanta sports history.

    Anyway, I’d like to send this book to folks on here if you would like to read it. Email me at rob copenhaver at live dot com with your name and address if you’d like a copy! I’ve got 5 so first come, first serve.

  5. In other news, Florida beat South Carolina by 5 scores. South Carolina just beat Tennessee by 4 scores. Florida just lost to Vandy. Tennessee plays Vandy next week. Tennessee will likely be Hooker-less.

    Vandy will beat Tennessee by multiple scores. Ya hate to see it.

  6. I heartily support your drunken altruism, Rob. I’d love a copy!

    Agree with you there, @4. One piece of good news, I guess, is that it was his left wrist and he’s a righty, so hopefully that mitigates it somewhat. I’d love Adam to keep getting paid millions of dollars playing the game. And I’d love him to prove me wrong, obviously. But especially given that, as you note, he’s not a great platoon player, I just don’t see a great way for him to contribute to this team.

    Maybe he can still be a second-division starter somewhere, which I imagine he would still love to do — that’s why he went to Miami in the first place. And he has put in yeoman’s work as an injury replacement starter for us. But he hasn’t been a first-division starter in years. If he’s happy taking a role as a bench bat for a few million simoleons, I wouldn’t say no. But that’s about all I can see.

  7. @8 – Agreed. I think “Bet the statistics, root for the mystics” is about as good a philosophy for a modern baseball fan that I can come up with.

  8. It won’t happen, but I’d love to bring Duvall, Rosario, Ozuna, and Cody Bellinger to Spring Training and let them duke it out for a platoon in LF. The losers get DFA’ed or salary dumped (if possible). Sort of like how we’re handling the fifth starter position.

    Speaking of the fifth starter position, the reports of Mike Soroka’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, at least according to the financial commitment the Braves made. I would think they fully expect him to make 20 starts if they’re committing $2.8M to him. I would think Soroka has the 5th starter spot locked up, and the other guys have to hope for an injury elsewhere. It would not surprise me if Soroka made more starts than Morton next year, for example.

  9. @10. Love it. Make LF a “loser leaves town match” from 80’s pro wrestling.

    Ronald switched agents. Alone it’s not a story, but combined with some the recent speculation it makes you wonder if there’s more going on.

  10. I think there’s definitely something going on with Acuna, but I can’t imagine they’re going to trade away their surplus value while they still have Ozuna on the roster. If they’re worried about the influence Ozuna has on Acuna, and they think that might be causing issues with Acuna, then just cut Ozuna already!

  11. @12 @11 Getting Ozzie back and letting go of Ozuna will have a huge impact on Acuna. A lot of addition by subtraction. I suspect that Acuna, being the oldest of the bunch, changed agents to support the other three. His brothers and cousin are all AL prospects in the midwest. It wouldn’t hurt if we could find a way to bring one or more of them into the Braves system. They’re all infielders and it’s not like the Braves couldn’t use the infield depth. I’m not sure there are enough other Venezuelans (Contreras, Arcia) to make Ronald comfortable without Ozzie and that may be why he latched onto Ozuna. Rosario may be the only other Spanish speaker on the position player side. I think Ronald still needs a mentor and/or a mate to keep him focused and happy. I also think Dansby is important in that respect too – his and Ozzie’s exuberance together with Ronald is huge for team cohesion.

  12. https://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/11/18/13681446/atlanta-braves-top-20-prospects-for-2017

    I’d be interested to see what prospect list has more major leaguers than this list. 5 All-Stars (Dansby, Ozzie, Soroka, Fried, and Acuna) in the top 7, and the other 2 (Allard and Newcomb) have logged 636 innings together.

    #9 (Anderson) has had a 3 WAR season and might have a long, successful career ahead of him.

    #12 (Riley) is an All-Star who has signed a $200M contract.

    A C+ guy (Luke Jackson) has logged 272 innings.

    This really was an incredible farm system they built. Coppy should get a lot of credit that he’ll never get.

  13. Rob, I think I generally agree that Coppolella was a pretty good GM all things considered, but I think you might be giving him too much credit.

    I’m just doing some quick Googling here myself, so if I err I apologize. However:

    • I can’t give Coppy credit for Newcomb being a part of a well-regarded farm system. They traded a king’s ransom for him and he busted in the majors.

    • Riley was drafted in June of 2015, during which time John Hart was technically GM and Coppy was technically assistant GM. It’s quite likely that it was his pick, but he wasn’t technically the guy in charge at the time. Anyway, that’s a technicality. Coppy was clearly heavily involved in the 2015 draft and was the official GM for the 2016 and 2017 drafts. Overall, the draft legacy is mixed, albeit overall okay:

    1st round:
    2015: Kolby Allard – Middling; moderate trade value. (Traded for Chris Martin. Now a replacement-level starter. Prospect bust, but had value to the team.)
    2015: Mike Soroka – Amazing at first. Budding ace, before injuries.
    2015: Austin Riley – Amazing. MVP candidate.
    2016: Ian Anderson – Initially great, now uncertain. Could still have a productive career as a mid-rotation starter.
    2016: Joey Wentz – Middling; moderate trade value. (Traded for Shane Greene. Currently a candidate for the Tigers rotation. Career uncertain, but had value to the team.)
    2017: Kyle Wright – Amazing. After scuffling for a couple years, finally looks like a strong #2 candidate.

    2nd round:
    2015: Lucas Herbert – Bust.
    2015: A.J. Minter – Great. Very good LHP setup man.
    2016: Kyle Muller – Uncertain. Somewhere on the Braves rotation depth chart. Time is running out for him to contribute to the Braves.
    2016: Brett Cumberland – Bust.
    2017: Drew Waters – Bust for the Braves, but still could have a decent career. Had almost no trade value when Braves jettisoned him to the Royals, but he had a promising rookie season.

    Others:
    • 2015, 5th round: Patrick Weigel – Flamed out in the minors, but was included in the trade that brought back Arcia.
    • 2015, 17th round: Evan Phillips – Now with his fourth franchise, the Dodgers used their Devil magic to turn him from an anonymous journeyman into a relief ace.
    • 2016, 4th round: Bryce Wilson – Promising in the minors, scuffled in the majors. Braves traded him for Richard Rodriguez, which didn’t work out. He had an awful year last year, but he still could have an okay career.
    • 2017, 3rd round: Freddy Tarnok – Could be a good reliever for the Braves.
    • 2017, 5th round: Bruce Zimmermann – Never a high-profile prospect and has been awful for the Orioles, but was included in the trade that brought back Gausman.

    That’s a good haul of stars from the top of the draft, which is why they made so many trades (and intentionally tanked the major league team) to get so many high draft picks. But after the first round, they hardly got anything. In all, I think Coppy did well, but I also don’t think he was an underappreciated superstar. I think Anthopoulos is a better GM in basically every respect.

  14. That’s fair, Alex. How about this delineation of credit:

    Wren – 10%
    Hart – 10%
    Coppy – 30%
    AA – 50%

    It’s undeniable that Coppy did a great job of consolidating young talent.

    I was moving these past couple weeks and found my Drew Waters signed baseball. Obviously I definitely don’t need that anymore. If it were authenticated, it’d fetch a whole $100 on SportsMemorabilia.com. I guess if the real estate market tanks, I have this honey pot…

  15. I agree with Alex that AA is an outstanding GM, certainly one of the best I’ve ever observed. And I have no desire to defend Coppy.

    Having said that, the teardown stretch from 2015-2017 has yielded remarkable fruit. As awful as it was to watch the big league club during those seasons, Rob is right @14–that prospect list from 2017 is one of the best you will ever see. The 2015-2017 drafts did yield some outstanding players (Riley, Minter, Soroka, Wright, Anderson, maybe Mueller). Trades from that era brought Swanson and Fried. So Coppy deserves his share of credit.

    But Acuna and Albies were international signings under the Wren regime. Anthopoulos deserves credit for making so many excellent trades and signings over the past five years. And the drafts from the last three years have already yielded the top two NL rookies of 2022, plus several more who could yet be stars.

    Bottom line, it’s a great time to be a Braves fan. The pool of talent currently under contract is the best in baseball.

  16. EOF made a comment on the 755 Is Real podcast basically to this effect:

    Having a young star sign a contract that might not be good for the player is a life-changer for an unaccomplished agent.

    I don’t know if Acuna is disgruntled about his contract. In a real-world sense, he’s got general wealth on the way, so who cares, but in the baseball world, he potentially left $200MM+ on the table.

    On the other hand, he’s lost the better part of two seasons to injury, and would be two seasons away from free agency going into 2023. Personally, I have lingering doubt about whether he’ll achieve his potential.

    But if the contract is causing friction, there’s an easy remedy: rewrite it. The Braves have the money. I suspect the Braves would want to see a 6-7 WAR season before going along.

  17. I wouldn’t rewrite anything with Acuna. There is a loooooong list of 22 year olds who had great seasons and then didn’t do much afterwards. He’s missed time in each of the last 3 seasons. He has maturity issues. He’s friends with Marcell Ozuna, for crying out loud. He needs to be play 2 full seasons minimum before the Braves should be looking at a different contract. He’s played 1 full season in his career and he’s 24 now.

  18. To expound that point, the same goes for Albies. There were all sorts of folks saying we were stealing money from these kids. Well, now both Ozzie and Ronald have played 1 full season in the last 3 years. Ozzie has a 104 OPS+ in the last 3 years. So I think we’re already seeing there was some risk even in these team-friendly deals.

  19. Although it pains me to write, my personal belief is Ozzie will be traded or released before his contract runs out in 2025*. Keeping Grissom around is critical. I don’t think he’ll age well — second basemen are notorious for falling off a cliff — and he’s had some bad injuries. His power really dropped off after MLB allegedly altered the baseballs and his OBP was already mediocre.

    *he has two team options after 2025

  20. I agree that Ozzie’s career in Atlanta unless he rebounds this year is probably not long for the world. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Acuna is very high maintenance. I’m guessing he’s figured out that he left another superstar’s wages on the table and I’d guess that he’s not thrilled about it. Couple that with being hurt often (I think the affect of being injured on a professional athlete, mentally has historically been under covered by the print media) and you have a recipe for some of the reverberating murmurs we are hearing right now.

    If someone were to offer me an absolute King’s Ransom ™ I might, conceivably be tempted. I think he’s got some serious injury prone vibes and he IMO is never going to be much more than a .280 hitter (not saying that is bad, it is just HOVG not HOF).

  21. First of all, I don’t think batting average is the measure of a man.

    Second, I don’t think the bar of whether we should keep our best and most popular player should be “In 20 years, will he be in the Hall of Fame?”

    If someone offered an absolute king’s ransom – say, what the Padres sent to Washington for Juan Soto — I’d like to think that our front office would do the decent thing and hang up immediately. Watching Ronald Acuña, Jr. put on a Braves uniform is one of the best reasons to be a Braves fan. Trading him now would be like trading Andruw Jones in 1998, or Phil Niekro in 1968 (or Kid Nichols in 1898).

    There is just no trade that could possibly be worth it.

  22. I’m with Rusty and Alex. Ronald and Ozzie are phenomenal talents who are a delight to watch. I for one hope they are Braves for a long time to come. I also suspect that the excess value in their contracts means the Braves would not get enough in trade to make it worth it, even if they for some strange reason they were willing to trade them.

  23. @14, I used to have a copy of Baseball America’s 1990 (or maybe it was 1989) Braves prospect list, which had most of the early-90s team. Glavine & Smoltz were already in the majors, but there were some good players on that list. Maybe not quite as many as on the 2017 list, though.

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