CINCINNATI — Adam Duvall goes about his business with a quiet approach, except for the loud noise his baseball bat makes when he connects. He is The Quiet Assassin.
Just when the other team seems in a comfort zone with Duvall, unafraid of what he might do, Duvall does significant damage.
An example surfaced Monday night in Great American Ball Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His first two times to the plate, Duvall struck out and grounded meekly to second base.
He came to bat in the sixth inning with two on and one out and Pittsburgh’s Garrit Cole was pitching a 2-0 shutout. After Cole slipped a quick strike past him, Duvall unloaded on the next pitch. One pitch, Home run. Three runs.
The Reds went on to win, 4-3, in 10 innings and the 28-year-old left fielder had eight home runs, tied with Scott Schebler and Joey Votto for the team lead, and 20 RBI, most on the team.
DUVALL, OF COURSE, CAME OUT of nowhere, languishing in the San Francisco Giants system, to quick stardom in Cincinnati.
He was drafted in the 11th round by the Giants in 2010 and spent three years in Class A, a year in Double A and a year in Triple-A before he got a cameo appearances with the Giants, 28 games and 73 at bats in 2014.
He was an infielder, a third baseman, and the Giants couldn’t find room for him. So when the Reds came calling at the 2015 trade deadline, offering them pitcher Mike Leake for Duvall, the Giants said, “Where do we sign?”
Duvall was assigned to Class AAA Louisville and was unimpressive — .189 in 25 games with four homers. The Reds called him up in September and he was hardly noticed in 27 games when he hit .219 with five homers.
THEN CAME SPRING TRAINING OF 2016 and he was impressive and won a spot on the roster — splitting left field with Scott Schebler. Duvall quickly won the every day spot in the unfamiliar territory of left field.
The result? 31 home runs, 103 RBI, an All-Star appearance, finalist for a Gold Glove. . .and high expectations for 2017. With the way he has started this season, his shoulders can carry heavy loads of expectations, still with the quietude and steadiness of a sniper.
“I just try to go out and be me,” said Duvall. “One thing I’ve been told, and I’ve kind of learned, is that you are not going to be able to please everybody. With that being said, you shouldn’t try to please everybody. You can be doing great and somebody is going to say, ‘Well, he doesn’t do this.’”
There are those who cite Duvall’s low batting average (.241 last season and .250 this season) and low on-base percentage as detriments.
But, as Duvall says, “They say stuff like that about the best players. You just have to keep within yourself and do what you do best. As a player you know what your strengths and weaknesses are. You maximize your strengths and minimize your weakensses. Everybody has a weakness where somebody can say, ‘Oh, you don’t do this.’ It is impossible to please everybody, so don’t try.”
DUVALL ACKNOWLEDGES THAT HIS weakness could be getting on base enough, “And if I was an outsider that is what I would see most. I combat that with the argument that I slug, I have a high slugging percentage.”
That is self-evident. On Sunday in St. Louis Duvall had four hits, that included three doubles. In his last 11 games he has five homers and 13 RBI.
“You have to give and take as a hitter because very few people can have a lot of power and have a high on-base percentage and do it all,” he said. “It is just too hard.”
REDS MANAGER BRYAN PRICE has no criticisms for Duvall and is happy with who he is and what he is.
“We talked to Adam in spring training about pressures being self-induced,” said Price. “He set a pretty high standard to go out there and again hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 and make the All-Star team — a guy in his first full season in the big leagues.
“Power has always been there for Adam,” Price added. “He always hit homers, always hit extra-base hits. Always drives in runs. I fully expect it up here and I don’t see this kid taking a step back. I think he is a really solid baseball player and the power component is always going to be there.
“He has the type of ability to carry a team offensively for a period of time. Every game he is in there I expect something good to happen every time he is at the plate,” said Price.
PRIOR TO MONDAY, when it came to extra-inning games, Great American Ball Park was not home sweet home for the Cincinnati Reds.
When they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in 10 innings Monday, 4-3, it broke an 11-game losing streak at home in extra innings for the Reds, an all-time major league record.
IF BOTH TEAMS STAY ON schedule, Saturday’s pitching matchup for the Reds and San Francisco Giants should be worth watching. It is Cincinnati’s rookie sensation, Amir Garrett, against former Reds star Johnny Cueto.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Being patient with Scott Schebler when he was struggling is paying good dividends now (12 for 27, .444, five homers, three doubles, 11 RBI in six games). It’s the same with a kid like Jose Peraza. He is not a .220 hitter and that will show up over the course of the season What is important is sticking with guys when they struggle, particularly young guys.” — Manager Bryan Price.