Lucas Duda Is More Than Just A Power Hitter

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There wasn’t a lot to be happy about following last night’s 11-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.  After all, Mike Pelfrey turned in another mediocre outing, the bullpen was ineffective and the team lacked the big hit to break the game open.  However, there were some positives, one of them being the continued offensive production of Lucas Duda.

The Dude went 1-3 in last night’s game with an RBI double and a pair of walks, raising his slash line on the season to .292/.368/.482 with a wOBA of .367.  When Duda came up to the Majors, everyone knew he had power, and he’s demonstrated that by smacking ten home runs over his last 214 plate appearances.  However, as he’s spent more time in the big leagues, Duda’s secondary offensive skills have emerged as well.

For one, the big man has a decent eye at the plate, especially for a power hitter.  He’s walked at a 9.5% rate while striking out at a 16.5% rate, both better than the Major League averages (8.1% and 18.6% respectively).  While those stats aren’t exactly Ricky Henderson-like, they are pretty good for a sophomore player who hits for power.  Heading into last night’s game, Duda has make contact at 81.7% clip while only swinging and missing 8.0% of the time, according to FanGraphs.  When a ball is in the strike zone, Duda has been pretty on point, making contact in some way at a 90.1% rate.

In addition, Duda has done pretty well after falling behind in the count.  Coming into last night’s game, Duda was hitting .273/.286/.473 after falling behind 0-2.  While the OBP isn’t exactly impressive, the batting average and slugging percentage are strong, indicating that Duda has hit the ball and hit it with some pop after quickly falling behind in the count.  Furthermore, Duda has performed well in high leverage situations, as deemed by FanGraphs.  In such scenarios, the big lefty is hitting .333/.432/.485 with a homer, and has done fairly well with two outs and runners in scoring position (heading into last night, Lucas was hitting .303/.465/.576 with one homer and fourteen RBIs in this situation).

Finally Duda has shown the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field.  Out of his 88 hits this season, the majority have been to  right (46) and center (28), but he does have 14 to left, showing that he can take the ball the other way if necessary.  He hasn’t homered yet to left field this season, but that’s OK as long as he can take the ball the other way so teams don’t start employing a shift.

Offensively, this season Duda has shown himself to be more than just a power hitter.  Watching his maturation at the plate and how he’s come out of his shell has been one of the high points as the Mets have played out their remaining schedule.  Assuming he continues to develop, he should be a fixture in the lineup in 2012.

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