Do the Atlanta Braves already have the outfielder they need in hand?

Fans are already trying to run him out of town, multiple websites have considered him a “non-tender” candidate, but is Adam Duvall the guy the Atlanta Braves need for the outfield?

The Atlanta Braves will be looking for a number of things this offseason to help strengthen the team for a hopeful deep playoff run in 2019. One will be an outfielder to start alongside Ender Inciarte and Ronald Acuna in the outfield. The other will be additional power in the lineup. They might already have it.

The San Francisco Giants originally drafted Adam Duvall in 2010 out of the University of Louisville. He worked his way up the minor leagues and got his first taste of the majors in 2014 before he was traded by the Giants to the Reds during the 2015 season. He made it up to the majors for the end of 2015 with the Reds.

In 2016, Duvall played his first full season in the majors, making the All-Star game, hitting .241/.297/.498 with 33 home runs. He had another similar season in 2017 for the Reds, knocking out 31 home runs while hitting .249/.301/.480. Over the 2016-2017 seasons, only 16 players hit more home runs than Duvall.

Duvall came into 2018 looking to hit big, but with time crunch in a crowded outfield, an early-season BABIP-driven slump kept him off the field. Once the Atlanta Braves acquired him, however, things went even further into the tank. He hit a putrid .132/.193/.151 for the Braves in 57 plate appearances off of the bench.

Now, as the Atlanta Braves look for a corner outfield and more power for the team in general, there are plenty of fans who also want to put Duvall on the first bus out of town.

The simple truth is that Duvall was bit by the BABIP bug in 2018. A guy who normally posted BABIPs just under .300 (.275-.290 between the minors and majors from 2015-2017). He opened the 2018 season in a huge hole, with a sub-.200 BABIP for the Reds through early June.

He went on a bit of a tear before being traded, hitting .241/.317/.414 from June 5 to July 29 with 5 home runs. That positive direction reversed course immediately with the Atlanta Braves.

The thing is, Duvall had his best year in the field while he was having his worst year at the plate. This season, Duvall is a finalist for the National League left field Gold Glove for the 3rd straight season. Because the Gold Glove is typically about more than actual defensive play, he’s not likely to win it, but he’s an absolutely worthy nominee.

In the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Duvall played over 1,200 innings in each season. He totaled 22 defensive runs saved in those two seasons over 2,494 innings. In 2018, he posted 16 DRS in just 769 innings. Obviously, there are no guarantees that he would have continued adding at that same pace, but it’s obvious that he was elite in 2018 defensively.

Whether Adam Duvall will start in the outfield for the Atlanta Braves, become a key bench member, or be non-tendered is obviously still in the air, but to so quickly dismiss him as a possible contributor to the success of the 2019 Atlanta Braves would certainly appear misguided.