There is a lot to be said for having depth in baseball. All contending teams seem to have it. But for the Atlanta Braves in 2018, the lack of depth was a huge problem. Although winning 90 games and an NL East title, the Braves bench had their fair share of struggles.
The Braves will look to improve this part of their club in 2019, and one player they need to step up in order to do this is Adam Duvall. If he can return to his All-Star form, Duvall could prove to be extremely vital to Braves success in 2019.
Adam Duvall Looking for Bounceback Year
It was no secret at the 2019 trade deadline that the Braves were looking to add bench depth. Outside of Charlie Culberson, Atlanta had major gaps to fill. Players like Ryan Flaherty, Peter Bourjos, Lane Adams, and Michael Reed did not add much pop either. Preston Tucker had a nice start to the season as the starting left-fielder, but once he was demoted to a bench role, his productivity lessened.
The Braves attempted to fill this void with the addition of Duvall from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline. They acquired Duvall from the Reds in exchange for pitchers Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims, as well as Preston Tucker. Despite having a rough season in 2018, Duvall brought power and a reputation for being one of the top outfield defenders in the NL.
Atlanta knew Duvall was having a down year but thought a change of scenery would do him good. However, this was not the case as Duvall just could not get going in a Braves uniform. He wound up hitting just .132 with one measly extra-base hit in 33 games with the Braves.
Looking for a Fresh Start
Despite back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017 of hitting 30-plus homers, Duvall finished 2018 with only 15 home runs and a .195 batting average. It was a rocky year for the left-fielder, as he also was left off the Braves postseason roster in the NLDS. Duvall will be looking to put 2018 in the rear-view mirror and get a fresh start in the new calendar year.
The good news is that Duvall has shown vast improvement during Spring Training. In a limited 21 plate appearances, he is only hitting .176, but Duvall is putting the ball in play thus far, only striking out once this spring. He also added a two-homer game against the Miami Marlins. The Braves are hoping this will help get his power stroke initiated once again and be a sizable boost to his confidence.
This two-homer game seems to have rejuvenated his self-confidence. After the game, he spoke with media and said, “Any time you can hit two homers in a game, obviously you’re doing something right. I was excited about that because I hadn’t had much success early here in spring. So to do that and really drive some balls was rewarding.”
Duvall is hoping for a better campaign in his first full season in Atlanta in an attempt to return to his former glory when he was with the Reds. If he continues to show signs of improvement this Spring and fully regains his confidence, he will become an eminent bench threat for the Braves in 2019.
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