Writer’s Note: This article was written as recently as the Boston Red Sox Monday night home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hello and welcome back to Connor’s Corner, a column where I discuss a standout performance in professional sports and that player’s journey from high school to the professional level. It’s finally time for baseball again after a long winter break that lasted nearly 150 days. This opening weekend was one to remember, with competitive games all around and exciting storylines such as the Rangers leading the AL West or the Philadelphia Phillies starting the season 0-4. However, the biggest drama from this weekend came out of Boston with Red Sox center fielder Adam Duvall, who has been hitting everything in sight.
The AL Player of the Week has had a week to remember, as the 34-year-old Kentucky native owns a .588 batting average, on 10/17 hitting, two home runs and nine RBIs. While Duvall has been tearing it up all weekend, his star-studded performance came Saturday night. Duvall started his night off on the right foot, catching up to a 94-mph fastball and hitting it off the centerfield wall and hustling into third with a triple. Duvall scored that inning on a wild pitch. Unfortunately for Sox fans, Chris Sale struggled, giving up a total of seven runs in three innings of work. Despite this, in the bottom of the third, Duvall hit a two-run shot over the Green Monster to cut Baltimore’s lead to 7-5. Duvall’s next big moment came in the seventh; down two runs, he hit a ball many believed was heading for the Pesky Pole. However, it dropped right in front of the right field fence and hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double, good enough to bring in a run. After all the drama, heading into the bottom of the ninth, Boston was still trailing Baltimore by a run and they needed a miracle. It appeared as though the Sox would start the season 0-2 as Masataka Yoshida skyed a 99-mph fastball that should have been a routine catch, however, left fielder Ryan McKenna dropped it, which put Yoshida on first with two away and brought up none other than Duvall. Duvall made McKenna pay for his sins by launching a 1-0 fastball over the Green Monster to give Boston the come-from-behind win over their divisional rivals.
Before the fame and fortune, Duvall attended Butler High School in Louisville, Kentucky. As a senior, he was excellent, hitting .375. Interestingly enough, the former Cardinal played shortstop before switching to center field. He advanced to the Kentucky State Tournament at Butler and earned All-Region honors. Unfortunately for the future Red Sox, he missed part of his senior season with back surgery. Even with the injury, he garnered the attention of Western Kentucky University.
The future Giants’ collegiate career has been one filled with excellence. Duvall originally played for Western Kentucky but transferred to Chipola Junior College after one season. In his time with Chipola, he hit .340 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and 21 walks. Directly after this, Duvall transferred to the University of Louisville, where his excellence persisted. He hit over .320 in his two seasons in Louisville, including over 20 home runs, 98 RBIs and 174 hits. While many college fans know Louisville as an ACC powerhouse, they used to be a part of the Big East from 2005-2013, along with UConn. During the 2009 Big East championship game, Duvall hit a home run that helped the Cardinals beat UConn 11-3. Because of his unmatched power, the San Francisco Giants took him in the 11th round of the MLB draft.
Duvall has enjoyed a modest nine-year career so far, and has had stints with the Giants, Reds, Braves, Marlins and Red Sox. He became a premier power hitter in Cincinnati in 2016 with 33 home runs, 103 RBIs, 133 hits and a BA of .249. Duvall was such a power hitter that in 2016, he was in the Home Run Derby. Unfortunately, teammate Todd Frazier eliminated him in the semifinals, saying, “I wasn’t letting him beat me. That was one thing I’m very confident in saying. Nothing against him, but he put up a lot of home runs as well.”
The journeyman’s batting average has deteriorated over his career, as he only owns a .232 lifetime mark which has decreased every year since 2019 with a fluctuation at the beginning of his career. Despite this, the slugger has mashed 206 home runs, 487 RBIs and 647 hits. A change of scenery for Duvall could give him a career year in which he establishes himself as one of the game’s most feared at the dish. It’s safe to say he is off to a good start.
Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, this year is probably not their year. Because they let Xander Bogaerts walk, they’re not in a position to win the fall classic. However, they’re in a great position for the future. Rafael Devers has established himself as one of the game’s best, and Yoshida has looked like an All-Star. Boston is not as far off as one would think. With Duvall bringing his veteran leadership and experience, Alex Cora needs to lean on him to give his expertise to the younger guys. However, so far, Boston is better off with Duvall than without. If they look to make a Cinderella run this year, Duvall will need to be at the top of his game, which he is more than capable of doing as evident by his career and this past weekend.