Duvall wows Marlins with oppo power show

March 3rd, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- "Wow. You see that? You see that? Duvall got oppo taco."

's three-run homer -- his first for the Marlins -- left new teammates like Starling Marte in awe during Miami's 8-5 win over the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Duvall, the ballclub's marquee position-player addition over the offseason, sent a cutter from Nats rotation candidate Erick Fedde over the right-center-field wall in the first inning.

"I was trying to get something up that I could drive there," Duvall said during a Zoom call. "Early on, I'm trying to be able to establish some plate discipline, so I'm working on trying to get good pitches to hit. There was a good one."

According to Statcast, Duvall was in the lower percentiles when it came to walk (7.2%) and strikeout (25.8%) rates in 2020. Though the 32-year-old was above MLB average in the latter (21.8) and below in the former (8.3), he hopes improving in those areas will make him even more potent at the plate. After all, Duvall was in the 89th and 86th percentiles for barrel percentage and expected slugging, respectively. His 16 dingers, six of which came in a pair of three-homer games within a week of each other, would've paced the Marlins.

When Miami made official the signing of Duvall a day before the start of Spring Training, it was no secret he was brought in to bolster a lineup in need of pop. Last season, the club ranked 23rd in the Majors with a .703 OPS and 25th with 60 homers. The offense was in the bottom 1 percentile for expected slugging as well as bottom 10 percent for barrel percentage and hard-hit percentage.

"He's a good hitter, he's a good player," Jes├║s Aguilar said during a Zoom call last week. "I think he's going to be a great teammate for us, was a great addition for the team."

Look no further than that first inning when a group of veterans led the charge. Following a Corey Dickerson groundout, Marte doubled to shallow left and Aguilar walked to set up Duvall's drive to the right-center-field berm. Both Dickerson and Aguilar had played against Duvall in the Minors and Majors, dating to his time with the Giants' organization.

"I'm hitting with guys on base, which is fun for me," Duvall said. "It's been fun to watch guys go through their at-bats and how they compete, and how they just put together good at-bat after good at-bat. Playing against them last year, I saw that. So that's fun to get mingled in there and try to do the same."

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said that Duvall, who served as the designated hitter for the second time this spring to get his legs underneath him, will play defense on Friday. He is projected to be the club's right fielder, a position he has appeared at just 27 times in his career -- 17 of which came last season. As for what Duvall has looked like at the plate, Mattingly noted it's still too early to make big calls on him.

"He has closed holes over the last few years," Mattingly said during a Zoom call. "He's gotten better and better, and he continues to work and show that desire to just continue to get better. So that's a good thing. He's looked good, and we've kind of seen plenty of him, so we know what he can do."