You might not know who Adam Duvall is – and if you do, you might not have known until a week ago – but it’s a name to remember. Duvall is second in the National League with 23 home runs, not to mention an All-Star left-fielder for the Cincinnati Reds.
How is that possible? How does a relatively anonymous player perform so well?
“Well, I think part of it was just being put in a good situation,” Duvall said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Getting to play every day, getting a bunch of at-bats and just being able to string those at-bats together, just (trying) to play well – it’s happened so far and I’m looking forward to keeping it going.”
Duvall, 27, was drafted by the Giants in 2010, but this is his first full season in the bigs. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2012.
“My body kind of just gave out,” Duvall said of losing 20 pounds in spring training that year. “I went and saw the trainers. They looked over the physicals and the blood tests and saw that my blood sugars were up and down and kind of everywhere. We looked into it more and found out that I was diabetic. It does run in my family, so it wasn’t too shocking, I guess. But I’m just glad we found out what it was and I’m glad to get if fixed.”
Duvall, who will participate in the Home Run Derby, hit 30 dingers in the minors that season, but it took him about a year to effectively manage his diabetes and feel normal again.
“It’s an everyday battle,” he said, “but it’s something that you just got to stay on top of and make sure your blood sugar is right and over time make sure that it’s consistent.”
Duvall hit a combined 55 homers in the minors in 2013 and 2014. He played his first major league game in June 2014 – against the Reds, of all teams – and homered off Mike Leake, for whom he was later traded.
Although he began his career as a third baseman, Duvall has made the transition to left field look easy. In fact, FanGraphs rates him as the top defensive left-fielder in baseball.
“It’s the same angles (as third base),” he said. “All the balls are basically the same. You just have more time to react. I felt very comfortable from the moment I went out to left field that I could play and play at a high level. It came kind of natural.”
Duvall is seeking to become the second Cincinnati Red to win the Home Run Derby in as many seasons. Todd Frazier won it last year before getting traded to the White Sox. While the rebuilding Reds (32-57) figure to hold on to Duvall for awhile, don’t be surprised if the Louisville native becomes a staple of the Derby for years to come.
And no, he’s not worried about the event affecting his swing in the second half of the season.
“I don’t think it’s a huge deal,” he said. “I think it’s sort of a natural swing path anyways. I don’t see it being a huge problem.”