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The list of position-player WARP leaders for 2016 reads rather as you’d expect it to, at least to begin with. Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, Kris Bryant, Buster Posey and Nolan Arenado are all in the top 10. The four men who join them there—Francisco Lindor, Jose Altuve, Xander Bogaerts, and Ben Zobrist—aren’t precisely guys about whom you’d say, going into the season, that they were stone cold locks to be top 10 players, but on the other hand it’s also not exactly stunning that they’re there. Four players from their category of players had to be in the top 10, and they happened to be those particular guys. Hitters 11-14 are unsurprising, too. And then you get to 15. And there you find this name:

Now, perhaps I’m betraying some Great And Shocking Lack Of Baseball Knowledge by admitting this, but seeing Adam Duvall’s name on that list was perhaps the second or third time in my existence that I’d become aware of Adam Duvall’s existence, and certainly the first time such knowledge made any meaningful imprint upon my brain. He is, apparently, an outfielder/first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, who in turn are, apparently, a major-league baseball team.

*pause for laughter*

Adam Duvall! 15th in the majors in WARP! In mid-June! This seemed a rather unlikely occurrence to me. And then I wondered why I thought that. Perhaps I’d simply never heard of Duvall, and that was on me. Perhaps what Duvall was doing was to be expected. Was that the case? Here’s one way, out of what I’m sure are many thousands, of finding out:

Season WARP

Career WARP

Surprise!

R. Cano

2.8

47.7

5.81%

B. Posey

2.9

37.9

7.76%

J. Lucroy

2.7

31.2

8.75%

M. Trout

3.6

38.1

9.42%

B. Zobrist

2.9

28.3

10.07%

P. Goldschmidt

3.2

25.6

12.34%

M. Machado

3.2

16.3

19.57%

D. Murphy

2.8

12.9

21.71%

J. Altuve

3.1

11.6

26.98%

N. Arenado

4.2

14.2

29.44%

M. Ozuna

2.8

5.2

53.27%

K. Bryant

3.2

5.9

53.56%

X. Bogaerts

3.0

4.7

62.98%

F. Lindor

3.3

3.3

99.39%

A. Duvall

2.7

0

#DIV/0!

This is a table which contains in its leftmost column the names of this year’s top 15 position players, as measured by WARP. The clever among you may recognize this list as the same one we’ve been talking about this whole time. The table is not, however, sorted by each player's 2016 WARP-to-date. It is instead sorted in ascending order by each player's’ 2016 WARP-to-date, divided by that same player’s career WARP entering the season. I have, for the sake of Whimsy, named this statistic (displayed in the right-most column) “Surprise!”. This is also what I like to call the moment directly after a young man discovers that his condom has broken.

At the top of the table, we see the people whose superb performance is, at this point, a little boring. Is anyone here shocked that Robinson Cano is having a great season? How about Mike Trout? Buster Posey? Paul Goldschmidt? Nah. So let’s move on. Next come the players for whom this season is a pleasant, if not utterly shocking, surprise: Murphy, Altuve, and Arenado fit nicely into this category. And then there’s the players for whom great success this year wasn’t really a given: Ozuna, Bryant, Bogaerts, and Lindor fall into this category. They’re all great young players, to be sure, but sometimes great young players fall flat. These ones haven’t. That’s good, and individually if not collectively something worth taking note of.

And then there’s Duvall. Compare him, for fun, to Lindor. Lindor’s WARP this total this season is, for all intents and purposes, exactly equivalent to his career total coming into the season. That’s a lot! That’s surprising! But it’s nothing compared to Duvall’s mark. Duvall’s mark is an error message. It is something Microsoft Excel doesn’t know how to do. It is a data cleaning problem. It is the reason I was surprised to see his name on the list at all, much less 15th. It is, perhaps, the reason you were surprised to see him there too. It is the personification of an extraordinarily unlikely event. It is the man who was struck by lighting. It is, for the moment, the thing you should know about Adam Duvall.

Duvall is a hometown boy, born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and now playing big-league baseball less than 100 miles away, at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. In every really meaningful way, he’s already been struck by lightning once: good-looking, a professional athlete, and a local boy playing for the local team. That’s shocking enough, and most of us will never get even close to being that lucky or that good. Then you add this to the mix: never ranked as among the top prospects in the game by any major scouting organization, not even the headliner in the trade that brought him to Cincinnati, and fighting Type 1 diabetes since a diagnosis in 2012, Adam Duvall is, right now, one of the very best players in the game. That’s lightning striking twice. That’s amazing. That’s worth taking notice of.

Sure, at age 27, and only in his second season in the majors (his cup of coffee in 2015 was very limited), Duvall probably doesn’t have a lot of room to grow upward, and sure, his offensive performance this year is driven in large part by a slugging percentage (.587) that’s higher than what he’s ever put up at any level of professional baseball, ever, so perhaps we’re experiencing a bit of a Bryan LaHair situation here. But still, LaHair made the All-Star team in 2012, and for a kid who never thought he’d make it out of Holy Name Central High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, that was a pretty special thing to look back on for him. This might be a little bit of the same situation, for Duvall: 2016 may well become the year he looks back on, as an old man bouncing his grandchildren on a knee, and tells them that for that one year, he was one of the best who played the game.

Thank you for reading

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maphal
6/17
Thanks for writing about him. He's an OF/3B, btw.
Obmij76
6/17
Zips predicted him for 26 HR this year before the start of the season.
alwaxman
6/17
That's what has me somewhat confused about the article. It was the BP annual that put Duvall firmly on my radar. While it might be surprising he's done as well as he has, the BP annual pegged him at 27 HRs, with a positive feeling about his ability to contribute if he was given a starting position.
rianwatt
6/17
Entirely possible I just missed the boat on him.
jdeich
6/17
The Orioles are paying Mark Trumbo $9M this year, so there's a profitable niche for 1B/OFs who embrace the "Hulk Smash!" philosophy at any baseball vaguely near the plate.