Duvall, Cozart: Are they All-Star worthy?

CINCINNATI — As we all know, the All-Star fan voting is a flawed process, a popularity contest with a big market bias. Some fans, a lot of fans, vote for their favorite players even if he is hitting .096 or is 1-and-10 with an 8.46 earned run average.

If Mr. Ed played center field for the Chicago Cubs right now he’d be the first talking horse voted to play in the All-Star game.

That brings us to Cincinnati where there is a distinct lack of fan attention this season (check all the unoccupied red seats in Great American Ball Park) and it is carrying over to the All-Star balloting.

FANS OBVIOUSLY ARE sitting on their hands when it comes to voting for any Cincinnati Reds as All-Stars. Two deserve deep consideration and another should be in the mix. Shortstop Zack Cozart is the only Reds player in the Top Five at his position in the National League voting and he is fifth at shortstop. Outfielder Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce are not in the Top 15 in the outfield voting.

Duvall is second in the NL with his 17 home runs and first in home runs per at bat (one every 10.9). He leads the league in slugging percentage (.622), is second in extra base hit (31) and is eighty in RBI (38).

And most baseball fans don’t know him from, uh, Adam.

IT IS WHAT BASEBALL is all about. When spring training began Duvall was in a tug of war with several candidates for left field. When the season began it was a platoon situation between him and Scott Schebler. Duvall’s bat and glove ran off Schebler, now in Louisville, and all of a sudden Duvall is in All-Star talk.

“It is nice to see good things happen to good people,” said manager Bryan Price. “It is nice to see it happen to a good person who works hard and is taking advantage of an opportunity and appreciates it.”

Duvall, 27, is a humble human being and while he is comfortable talking to the media he isn’t one to aim klieg lights at his locker.

When he was told somebody needed to make a push for him to make the All-Star team, he smiled broadly and said, “That would be nice.” Has he thought about it? “Not really. No. I’m just trying to focus on going out there every day and playing hard. But it would be neat.”

DUVALL SAID HE HASN’T seen the latest vote count and won’t because, “I don’t read anything on line or anything in the paper. I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I’m just trying to help the team win, drive in some runs, play some good defense and let everything else take care of itself.”

Duvall’s latest deed of derring-do was a three-run home run Monday against St. Louis pitcher Mike Leake, the man the Reds traded to San Francisco for Duvall.

When Duvall was in San Francisco, he hit his first career home run against Leake when Leake pitched for the Reds. So what is it about Leake?

“I don’t know, man, I really don't know,” he said. “The last time I saw him was two years ago when I was in San Francisco. So I’ve only seen him twice in three years. I’m just seeing the ball really well right now (no matter who is pitching). I’m really slowing everything down and trying to get good pitches to hit and take good swings. After that, you can’t control much.”

Easily assessed, difficult to achieve.

LIKE MOST PLAYERS, Duvall isn’t all about baseball. While at the University of Louisville he majored in Business/Finance. And until last winter, a busy one for him as he prepared for this season, Duvall went back to his alma mater and tutored UofL baseball players.

“That was my off-season gig to make a little extra money,” he said. “And I could help the guys who are going through the same stuff I went through. I tutored the business students from the baseball team. I did it in a little study area in the locker room. That’s something that Coach Mac (Dan McDonnell) puts a lot of emphasis on. Their GPA is always very high, pretty impressive.”

Duvall said he puts his education to a little bit of a test with some of his own investments, but most of it is done by his own financial advisor. And one thing he never does is give financial advice to friends or relatives.

“My teammates wouldn’t listen to me,” he said. “And I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it. There are people around me who ask but you don't give money advice to people you want to be friends with for a while. If something goes wrong that you can’t control, then there is a little tension there.”

The University of Louisville baseball team is on a strong run in the NCAA tournament this year, but Duvall hasn’t been able to watch them play. “The fans in left field last weekend kept me updated, yelling at me, ‘Louisville is up by 10 runs,’” he said. “And some of them broke out in some UofL Cardinals cheers.”

COZART, TOO, IS DESERVING and the best thing about the voting process is that every team must have at least one representative, even if nobody from the team is voted to be an All-Star.

“It is a very personal thing (to be an All-Star), like somebody going to the big leagues and throwing an inning or getting one pinch-hit at bat,” said Price. “You are forever in the Baseball Encyclopedia. There is something to be said for that and it is going much beyond that. It is something you want to check off in your life in baseball, being a Major League All

“For me on the voting I’m on the fence, well, not even on the fence,” Price added. “You want the most deserving people to be there and if that’s the case and Cozart continues on this pace he will be one of the most deserving to be on the team.

“You hope that if the most deserving players aren’t voted in that managers will bring ‘em in or the fan vote will bring ‘em in. You want the best players to be there and it is an honor to go, but you have to earn it, you have to be deserving,” said Price.

Right now, Cozart and Duvall are as deserving as they come.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Manager Bryan Price delayed his regular pre-game media meeting by 20 minutes so he could watch the ultra-boring PFP (pitchers fielding practice) and one writer said, “What? They didn’t have any paint for him to watch dry?”

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