Duvall gave the Braves’ lineup a new outlook. He would start in left field against southpaws, shifting Ronald Acuna to center and putting Ender Inciarte on the bench. The Braves have tested that strategy, but received little in return.
Inciarte is hitting .283 in the second half and .271 since the Duvall trade. The improved performance has been encouraging, though the Braves still are mostly platooning him, including Friday night when they opposed Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland.
As for the midseason acquisition, little has been added thus far aside from theoretical power. Duvall is 2-for-21 as a Brave and hitless in his past 10 at-bats.
He’s still growing acclimated. In Duvall’s defense, he hasn’t had consistent at-bats to string together much success. He still provides value in the field and might have the third-best power on the club, so he can provide value through slumps. The stats aren’t there, but Duvall believes the production is on its way.
“For sure (I’m feeling energized), especially this time of year when you’re playing for something,” he said. “It gives you a little extra push in your step. … That’s what makes this time of the year fun. When both teams have something to go out there and try to win. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s a great atmosphere to be in. We’re all just trying to chase some wins.”
Duvall said he already has benefited from hitting coach Kevin Seitzer’s tutelage. As it has been explained to Duvall, it boils down to not pressing, relaxing in the box and letting ability take over.
In fact, he hadn’t seen many coaches with such keen eyes as Seitzer’s.
“We’ve been working on some things, and he’s been a lot of help so far,” Duvall said. “I’ve definitely enjoyed working with him. He’s a very humble guy. He talks a lot about things that a lot of hitting coaches don’t talk about. So that’s definitely a change as well.”
The first-place Braves have caught fire in the second half, and getting anything out of Duvall would be a welcome bonus. He hit 64 homers across the past two seasons, but that total has dwindled to 15 this season, none with the Braves.
The Braves weren’t as power-deprived as many assumed entering the season. They’ve more than held their own in that department. Now they’ll see if Duvall can fortify an unbeknown strength.