The Giants are looking for another outfielder. Even with Angel Pagan coming back this week, and even with Hunter Pence coming back around the trade deadline, the Giants are still just one outfielder short of a perfectly nice outfield rotation. It was reasonable to hope that either Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson would help in the interim, but the available evidence suggests the Giants shouldn't count on them much longer. The search for another outfielder continues in earnest.
While rummaging through Baseball-Reference and looking for players the Giants might steal -- a common pastime in June and July -- I constantly run into Adam Duvall, an old friend with a championship ring. He has as many home runs as the entire Giants outfield, including the bench players. He’s playing defense well, even though that was supposed to be a problem. He has 26 career home runs in just 370 plate appearances, which suggests he might have legitimate 40-home run power. Duvall might end up being the best outfielder the Giants have developed since Chili Davis, and he was a throw-in for a rental pitcher.
The question before you today is this: How irritated should you be with the Giants for giving Duvall away?
In the big picture: Not very. The Giants are in first place. It's like what Lincoln told the Army of the Potomac at Harrison’s Landing: "Don’t go chasing waterfalls. I beseech you to stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to." Things are fine. This is fine. Maybe Duvall would have tipped over a golf cart with three teammates in it if he were still with the organization. YOU CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE.
In your weaker moments: Somewhat irritated. Duvall is turning into what Williamson was supposed to be, a high-risk, high-reward hitter who doesn’t hurt a team’s defense in a corner. The Giants would be a much, much different beast if they had a 30-homer hitter in the middle of their lineup. They had one.
At the same time, it’s not like anyone around here was predicting this for Duvall:
Adam Duvall falls into that category that Conor Gillaspie did a couple years ago. If another team gets use out of him and figures out the right role for him, good for that team. The Giants clearly weren't going to do it. They got a little value out of him, and hopefully he thrives with the Reds.
I guess that means Duvall will be back in 2020 and having a rough season off the bench. Looking forward to that.
But, overall, no, I’m not irritated that the Giants had Duvall and let him go. The reasons aren't very complicated:
1. Duvall wasn't going to get the everyday experience he was going to with the Reds
That’s important. Williamson has been jerked around by the Giants because of immediate need, but he doesn’t have a consistent role. That’s not to say he’s been mishandled — it’s just the job description.
It would be a stretch, then, to think that Duvall would automatically have the same kind of production after being on the Sacramento-San Francisco shuttle and getting a start or two per week in the majors. Regular at-bats matter, and they might correlate directly with his breakout year.
Non-sequitur about Hector Sanchez’s career being weird.
2. It’s never a good idea to copy home runs from Cincinnati and paste them into your San Francisco fantasies
Sure, Duvall has the kind of power that plays anywhere, but I’m not convinced that he would be in double figures with the Giants by now, even with regular at-bats. It’s not just about AT&T Park having spacious dimensions. It’s about the thick sea air and having two games at Petco or Dodger Stadium for every one at Coors.
It’s all of the above, which means that I’m not going to read too much into that .589 slugging percentage of his, especially when it comes with the news that ...
3. His patience and plate discipline have been dreadful so far
Duvall’s on-base percentage is .286. In 221 plate appearances, he’s walked just seven times and struck out 64 times. I’m not saying he can’t sustain this pace. But if he does, he’ll be one of the most unique players in baseball history. It’s nearly impossible to control the strike zone that poorly while still remaining an offensive asset.
The best comp is probably Chris Carter, who was useful enough for the Astros until he got arbitration-expensive. There's probably a league-wide adjustment coming soon, just based on the raw stats
If the Reds offered Duvall back in a modest trade, which they wouldn't do, of course I’d be all for it. The odds are excellent the Giants would be a much improved team with him back and resuming his wanton dingerlust.
It’s a hard trade to get mad at, though. The Reds took a 26-year-old without a permanent home in the majors, and they polished him up nicely. Even if he just happens to fit exactly what the Giants need, there are better targets for your internet rage.
Zack Wheeler is on the mend, you know. That's probably a better way to waste your internet time.