Fantasy Baseball

Getting His Due: Adam Duvall

Last year, Adam Duvall wrangled a starting job on a bad team and became an excellent value for owners that gambled on his power potential.  This year with a non-zero price tag, coming off a rough second half, owners are shying away from Duvall a bit.  With an ADP of 155.02, going as the 37th overall OF, many owners are acting as though there is no profit potential despite Duvall finishing as the 21st overall OF last year and as a top 100 player in 2016.

There are also many similar “power-only” assets are going anywhere from approximately 80 to 30 picks before Duvall.  It would appear that he has profit-potential and a skillset owners are willing to pay up for – why is the market so cool on Adam Duvall as the major draft weekends rapidly approach us?

As is typically the case, when a player comes from seemingly out of nowhere to achieve success, the fantasy community tends to doubt whether that success is repeatable.  Duvall looked like the classic Quad-A power type, getting his first significant playing time at age 27. His second half struggles are not seen as mere regression, but rather the wheels coming off.  That sort of view is confirmation bias in its truest form.  However, even though a rush to judgment is not good process, the outcome could still be correct.  Can Duvall repeat or improve on his success from last year or was the second half a ominous sign of things to come?

Let’s take a look at his results by half:

Split PA R HR RBI AVG OPS
1st Half 324 48 23 61 .249 .839
2nd Half 284 37 10 37 .231 .741

Now, and more importantly, let’s take a look at some of the statistics that were underlying his first and second half results:

Split BB% K% HARD % PULL % FB % HR/FB BABIP
1st Half 4.9% 29% 39.3% 49.8% 45.5% 24% .277
2nd Half 8.8% 24.6% 38.4% 49.2% 48.1% 11.2% .274

This is intriguing.  Despite the lackluster results, it looks as though Duvall was flat in several key power indicators – his Hard%, Pull% and FB% were all in the same neighborhood as the first half.  The big difference is the result, Duvall’s HR/FB rate more than halved in the second half.  As Duvall’s batted ball data did not shift, chances are that Duvall was not as good in the power department as he was in the first half, but also not as bad as he was in the second half.

The area where we do see a significant difference though is Duvall’s plate discipline, where he improved significantly. Duvall trimmed 4.4 percentage points off his K% and added almost 4% to his walk rate.  If he manages to keep those changes, Duvall could be closer to a .255-.260 than a .240 hitter.  Presumably, Duvall would also be the beneficiary of a few more runs scored from being on-base more via his walk-rate and hits that would fall in play even with a suppressed BABIP.

StatCast supports Duvall’s power output with a 94.6 MPH Avg. LD/FB Exit Velocity. His neighbors at that level include Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols and George Springer.  His Barrels/PA (7.2%) also backs his power output with his company including Pujols, Josh Donaldson, Yasmany Tomas and Edwin Encarnacion.

There is not much in the data, which indicates that Duvall is going to fall from the 30+ HR .240 average hitter that he was a season ago.  Plus, the second half, which people point to as evidence that Duvall can’t repeat, actually hinted that there could be upside beyond what Duvall accomplished last year.  Duvall might not have top ten type upside, but he could be a top 75 player with a little more consistency in the power department and sustained gains in the K and BB departments.

In fact, we don’t have to squint too hard to see a pretty spot-on comparison between pre-2016 Mark Trumbo and Adam Duvall.  They are both right-handed power bats with less than ideal walk rates; bad, but not prohibitive K-rates and batted ball profiles with BABIP-draining characteristics (Duvall FB%, Trumbo IFBB%). Could Duvall ever put together a season like Trumbo in 2016? Possibly, but at pick 155, he only needs to be 2016 Adam Duvall to return a profit and that seems like a pretty good  bet.

 

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