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Is Adam Duvall really a good pick-up for the Marlins?

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Duvall remains a powerful hitter, but showed potential signs of decline in 2020.

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Marlins got the corner outfielder they were looking for, adding slugger Adam Duvall on a one-year deal for an affordable amount of money ($5M guaranteed, only $2M of which counts toward their 2021 payroll). But did they do well? Could Duvall be a success in the Marlins uniform? Even though I hope so, I have my doubts.

Duvall is certainly a upgrade for the Marlins considering the right field alternatives such as Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison. Offensively, Duvall’s calling card is his power, as he possesses 30-35 home runs power as an everyday player. Duvall owns a .852 OPS in 97 games since 2019, of which he was a part-time player for the Braves.

Duvall’s Barrel% has always been above league average, especially as a member of the Braves where he posted totals of 15.9% and 13.9% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Players are extremely likely to produce extra-base hits when they barrel the ball, even at a venue like Marlins Park. But in 2020, when Duvall wasn’t going yard, he was often making poor quality of contact as indicated by his 88.1 MPH average exit velocity, exactly three miles per hour lower than in 2019 (91.1 MPH).

With the exception of Giancarlo Stanton, no hitter is completely immune to Marlins Park’s home run-suppressing conditions. Duvall is a lifetime .164/.190/.393 hitter there with four homers in 63 plate appearances.

Duvall has previously struggled to produce against non-fastballs, an issue that resurfaced during his abbreviated age-31 season. The powerful outfielder recorded a .157 batting average against off speed pitches, whiffing almost half of the time off breaking pitches (42.6%).

The Marlins can tolerate this flawed offensive profile if Duvall adds value with his fielding. However, after rating as an elite defensive outfielder from 2016-2018, Duvall’s defensive metrics have been on a slight decline since. For his career, Duvall has amassed 44 defensive runs saved. While primarily a corner outfielder, Duvall has seen playing time at first base as well, appearing in 43 games at the position over his career.

What I hope is that Duvall’s signing won’t result in Garrett Cooper’s departure. The good thing about Duvall is that—at least with Cooper still as a member of the team— is the fact that he doesn’t necessarily have to play every day. He can be a good platoon player to face lefties (.801 OPS against them), and with the National League foregoing the designated hitter in 2021, Duvall should see plenty of action off the bench as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement.