Duvall on pace to set career marks

Duvall on pace to set career marks

CINCINNATI -- Adam Duvall became an All-Star for the first time in his young career last season thanks to the player's ballot. And if he heads to Miami this season, the honor will likely come from his peers again.

Luckily for the Reds' left fielder, it shouldn't be hard to gain attention given his play in 2017. He's currently on pace to post new career bests in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits and home runs. He's also batting .467 on Cincinnati's current homestand -- including a 1-for-3, three-RBI performance in Friday's 5-0 win over the Cubs.

"There's nothing different," Duvall said of his approach this season. "It's tough to say what it really is. Sometimes hits fall, sometimes they don't. I feel like I'm taking some really good at-bats, working some walks in there and just driving the ball right now. Hopefully we can continue that."

Before the All-Star Break in 2016, Duvall was slashing .249/.288/.551 with 75 hits, 23 home runs and 61 RBIs through 83 games. With 76 contests under his belt this season, he's currently slashing .288/.332/.572 with 84 hits, 19 homers and 57 RBIs.

Duvall's defense has also been stellar -- he's currently tied for fourth in the Majors in outfield assists with six. But as of June 26, Duvall had received the 10th-most votes among National League outfielders on the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, even trailing the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, who was recently sent down to Triple-A after batting .171 with Chicago this season.

"He's a Gold Glove defender in my book, who's hitting close to .290 with homers and RBIs and doubles," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I can't imagine there being six better in the league than him in that group of outfielders."

Duvall's performance has been particularly important of late for the Reds, who came into this homestand in danger of digging themselves a large hole in the race for the NL Central.

In Cincinnati's last road trip, Duvall didn't homer as the team went 2-5. But since coming back to Great American Ball Park, he has gone deep three times in four games -- including an opposite-field three-run homer that opened the scoring on Friday against the Cubs. It helped the Reds climb within seven games of the first-place Brewers with a 3-1 start to the homestand.

So what has been the key to Duvall's improvement? Price believes it might just be a matter of playing more, which makes sense considering that prior to last season, Duvall had just 55 games of Major League experience.

"I think the experience does not hurt anybody, especially the experience at this level," Price said. "I think after a while you kind of figure out what the pitchers that are getting you out are doing to you, and then you try to make your adjustments. And I think that Adam has done a great job of controlling the strike zone better, getting better pitches to hit and battling with two strikes. I think everything's gotten better."

Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.