Despite the recent series against the Detroit Tigers in which he went 4-for-7 with a home run and three RBI, left fielder Adam Duvall has struggled mightily this season. In 2018, he’s hit .199/.282/.416 with 12 home runs, 41 RBI, 21 runs scored, 25 walks, and 67 strikeouts. Duvall has never been a player that hits for average, but in 2018, his BA, OBP, SLG, and OPS have all been the lowest of his Reds career. His wRC+ currently is at 84, also the lowest in his four years with the Reds.

Duvall’s struggles started long before this season, however. In fact, they date back to late 2016. Duvall made the NL All-Star team that season after a monstrous first half. He finished the season with 33 home runs, 31 doubles and 103 RBI, but in the first half, he hit .249/.288/.551, with an OPS of .839. In May alone, he hit 11 of his 23 first-half home runs, and had a 1.004 OPS and an eye-popping 158 wRC+. But something happened in the second half of 2016. July and August were so-so, but then the slide started. In September 2016, his wRC+ was 71, and he hit only four home runs while striking out 31 times.

Duvall started 2017 better than he ended 2016. He crushed it in May and June, hitting seven home runs and 28 RBI with a .782 OPS and a 120 wRC+ in May. June brought one of the best slash lines of his career, .323/.375/.634 with a 1.009 OPS and a 155 wRC+. But then — like the previous summer — the wheels fell off. In July, his wRC+ was just 73 with only four home runs. He hit a little better in August and September, but not by much. Overall, Duvall finished 2017 with a solid .249/.301/.480, 31 HR, 99 RBI, .782 OPS, but it could have been much better if he didn’t put up an 0-fer in the home run category and have a 43 wRC+ in September. And then that dreadful month carried right over into the 2018 season.

It is true that Duvall has been hitting better of late. In the last seven games — small sample size alert — he’s hitting .357/.438/.714 with an OPS of 1.152 and five hits, including a home run, three RBI and two walks. Part of that might be luck. His BABIP in April was .191 and his BABIP in May was .196. But his BABIP in June is at .357. It’s quite the contrast to go from hitting everything at defenders to hitting above .350 on balls in play, but he’s having more success right now and finding more gaps in the outfield.

Duvall has always been a classic power hitter. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but has the power to hit 30 home runs a year, similar to Adam Dunn (though Dunn was a better hitter overall). He’s not going to change now, and hopefully the Reds realize that.

So, what should the Reds do with Duvall? With Jesse Winker showing he can play at the major league level, the Reds might try to trade Duvall at the deadline. Despite his stats, he could still provide a team in contention with a power bat. However, it’s also very possible that the Reds won’t be able to trade him because of his poor production at the beginning of the year.

While Duvall is not a free agent until 2022, he will be 30 in September and is arbitration eligible next season, which means he’s due for a pay raise. I don’t think the Reds will be successful in trading him next month, and will therefore have a decision to make in the off season. If the Reds don’t trade him, he will probably get a one-year deal worth a couple million dollars.

And then there’s the question, “What happens to Jesse Winker if Duvall is with the Reds in 2019?” While Winker is not the best outfielder, he seems to play better in left field than right field. I was curious to know if Duvall had ever played right because if the Reds were to keep Duvall, it might make sense to have him in right and Winker in left. Well, Duvall has played right field–43.2 innings (or six games) in 2016, to be exact. In a very small sample size, his defensive runs saved (DRS) was -2 and his ultimate zone rating (UZR) was -1.7. If a number is negative, that’s not a good indication of his performance. Compared to four years in left field, where he has a 35 DRS and a 17.0 UZR in over 3000 innings, it doesn’t look like a feasible option on the surface. Plus, why play Duvall in right when Scott Schebler also plays there? 

But the Reds should consider all options. And if Winker doesn’t improve in right, maybe they should play him in left every day and have Duvall try right field, at least to spell Schebler. This also implies the Reds won’t trade Billy Hamilton, and Schebler won’t be playing center field. What it comes down to is that the Reds have many decisions to make over the next month (and beyond) regarding the outfield rotation, and Duvall is only a small piece. But if he doesn’t get his season turned around, he may (deservedly) find himself on the bench.

15 Responses

  1. Scott Gennett

    I think it’s safe to say that this is not the only tough decision to be made in the near future. As for Hamilton, it’s good to know that in games he’s scored at least one run, Reds have a .620 winning percentage. Unless better options become available, it may convenient to continue with Winker in LF, Hamilton in CF, Schebler in RF and Duvall as 4th OF & pinch hitter.

  2. bouwills

    I just don’t get the fascination fans have with Jesse Winker. The man has yet to hit his weight vs LHP at the ML level. His ceiling is to be an average defender in left field, his baserunning ceiling is lower than average. It’s still about production. All 4 outfielders have between 201 to 221 AB. If you add runs + rbi, you get: Winker(23 + 19 =42), Hamilton (37 + 15 =52), Schebler (33 + 28 = 61), & Duvall (21 + 41 = 62). 20 fewer runs produced by Winker vs Duvall , Jesse with 20 less AB. Even if you deduct the HR, Winker still trails the other 3 OFs by 10-13 runs produced. The only outfielder who should be playing every day is Scott Schebler, half the time in rf & half in cf.

    • Dave Bell

      Winker has the highest career OPS+ of the four outfielders. Now. Today. In the major leagues. And he is the only one of the four whose age suggests time to improve before hitting his ceiling. It would be absolutely shocking if he didn’t have a much, much, much better major league career than each and every one of the others when it’s all said and done–provided the Reds don’t screw it up. I’ve been waiting excitedly for his arrival for four years because, as Bill James demonstrated three decades ago, minor league hitting numbers are absolutely predictive of major league production. Winker’s hitting ability is the real deal. He should have a 10+-year career as a well-above-average hitter, which clearly isn’t true of Hamilton and Duvall, and almost certainly isn’t true of Schebler. Who will be better in two or three years?–that’s what should decide who plays at a time like this, with the team not even sniffing contention. That person, in the OF, is Winker.

      • eric3287

        I have been a little concerned with Winker’s lack of power, but he is hitting the ball really hard. Based on exit velocity and launch angle, he has almost the same expected SLG as Scooter’s (.447 vs .454). Now obviously his actual slugging is .348 vs. .541 for Scooter so obviously there is something off a little bit, but the potential to be .300/.400/.450 type of hitter is all there for him. He’s 24 and just needs experience.

    • Brock

      The fascination is the potential that he has. The problem is you see Winker as a finished product, when in fact he is also only 24 years old and this is his first full year in the big leagues. He has the potential to be a solid bat in the lineup for many years. That potential is key and he needs plate appearances is see if he can reach it. This includes learning how to hit LHPs, which unfortunately means struggling against them right now. We know what Duvall and Hamilton are. They have enough PAs in the big leagues to draw conclusions that they aren’t going to change much from what they are today. But Winker can be much more than he is right now–he just needs time to develop.

      While it is about production as you say, it is also about doing what is best for the club to have a winning team in 2019, 2020, 2021, etc. Duvall/Hamilton almost certainly will not be around to be major contributors to those teams. But Winker might be, and we need to go through the growing pains now to see if he will be. Winker need to play every day for us to find out.

  3. davemoorewvu

    There are a lot of questions on the offensive side that need to be answered. Where does Senzel play? Anyone move to the outfield? Who gets traded?


    Offense isn’t really the problem. If we can sign, or trade for a couple good starters, I think we compete next year.

  4. eric3287

    This post dovetails nicely with the Peraza post from yesterday. In both cases, the basic problem stems from the Reds insistence on the ever elusive “IF.” The front office looks at the current roster and they think IF Duvall hits like he did early in 2016/May 2017, and IF Peraza can hit like he did in September of 2016, and IF Scooter continues to hit like a borderline MVP, and IF Billy can just figure out a way to get on base 32% of the time, we will be in good shape.

    The really good front offices try to find ways to actually improve their roster. They don’t rely on wishes and hopes and coulds and maybes and flukes. The numbers and history say that Jesse Winker will be a better player than Adam Duvall. The numbers and history say Nick Senzel, right now, is one of the 8 best players in the Reds organization. The question should be do we trade Duvall to open a roster spot or make him the 4th OF. But the Reds were mesmerized by a few really good months.

  5. john

    I’ve never understood the concept of trading decent to good players. Keep them! Have a four man outfield. Depth is a good thing and, over time these things sort themselves out. Trading him for two 20 year olds that never make it above AA ball is worthless. The percent of prospects that never see the majors is high. Keep proven talent and hopefully,

    • DHud

      It’s all about players development curves. If you have 8 players who are at their max potential and don’t win or still aren’t even competitive, you’re not going to miraculously become more competitive as players regress

      Adam Duvall is likely as good now as he ever is going to be and the Reds still aren’t a competitive ball club. Keeping him to only get worse does not maximize him as an asset

  6. bouwills

    Since the beginning of the 2016 season, there are exactly 6 players in the NL with more XBH than Adam Duvall. Arenado (203), Freeman (185), Blackmon (181), Bryant (180), Goldschmidt (168), & Rizzo (166). Adam has 165. Votto trails Duvall by 6 with 159. By the way, only F. Freeman has fewer AB than Duvall’s 1360 during that period with 1309. Votto had 1373. Keep him. Even as a bench player who can play a little corner(both infield & outfield), he’ll be valuable & inexpensive.

    • eric3287

      wRC+ since 2016, out of 82 players with enough AB’s to qualify:
      1) Votto – 158
      2) Freeman – 155
      3) Bryant – 145
      6) Goldschmidt – 139
      8) Rizzo – 133
      10) Blackmon – 132
      11) Arenado – 130
      60) Adam Duvall – 98
      81) Peraza – 75
      82) Billy – 70

      So of the top 6 in XBH since 2016, 5 of them are in the top 11 and only 1, Duvall, is not. Not in the top 11, not in the top 20, not even in the top HALF. When the power goes, and it will, age is undefeated, it will be really ugly and really fast for Duvall, as much as we all would hate to see it happen.

      • eric3287

        Here is the only problem with the Gattis comp.
        26 – 110 wRC+
        27 – 125 wRC+
        28 – 103 wRC+
        29 – 120 wRC+
        30 – 105 wRC+
        31 – 123 wRC+

        27 – 105 wRC+
        28 – 98 wRC+
        29 – 84 wRC+

        Gattis is starting from a much higher ceiling. We agree that Duvall should play less, and might have more value that way, but unfortunately we are dealing with the Reds. As long as he is on the roster he will be a starter.

      • bouwills

        I didn’t attempt to rank or rate anybody., I’m stating stats. Every double, triple, & HR actually occurred in a ML game. There is no 100 basis, no accounting for ballpark or conditions. In my post all ML players in the NL qualify & all get 1 point for an XBH. Duvall’s got more XBH than everybody in the NL the last 390 some games besides the 6 men I mentioned.

  7. Phil

    Lets assume the Reds starting line up ends up something like:
    Barnhart C, Votto 1B, Scooter 2B, Senzel SS, Suarez 3B, Winker LF, Schebler RF, Hamilton CF
    Barnhart C, Votto 1B, Senzel 2B, Peraza SS, Suarez 3B, Winker LF, Schebler RF, Hamilton CF

    Barnhart, Votto, Scooter, Winker, Schebler and Hamilton all hit right-handed pitching better than they do left.

    Having Duvall and Blandino as right-handed bats off the bench could pinch hit and back up every position besides CF and C.

    Duvall has struggled overall since the mid-point of last season, but in that time has been pretty good against left-handed pitching.

  8. Bill

    Seen a story somebody started a rumor that BH may be traded to Boston for JBJ. Speaking of Boston they say they may be looking for a 2nd baseman.