Lucas Duda’s 2012 Season So Far

By Unknown author

Coming into this season, there were some lofty expectations for Lucas Duda.  After batting .292/.370/.482 with ten homers last season (including .332/.411/.546 in the second half-with all of his homers coming then), Duda was penciled into the middle of the order and expected to be a major offensive contributor.  With 100 games remaining this season, let’s see how The Dude is fairing so far.

In 232 plate appearances, Duda is batting .262/.349/.450 with ten homers and 36 RBI-both of which lead the club.  He’s found his power stroke recently, slugging .636 with six home runs over his past sixteen games.  He’s walked a respectable 26 times (11.2% of PA) but also fanned 58 times (25.0%, a marked increase from last year’s 16.4%).  Duda is drawing walks in addition to hitting for power,

which is always a good sign, but it would be nice to see the strikeout total decrease a little.

Like a lot of lefties, Duda has performed better against right handed pitches.  Against righties, Duda is hitting .267/.367/.496 with eight homers, while batting .254/.311/.358 with two long balls.  Even though the batting averages are similar, Duda clearly has a better eye and more pop versus right handers.  Still, he isn’t a liability when facing a southpaw and doesn’t need to be pulled for a right-handed bat.

Another positive regarding Duda’s bat is how he’s handled non-fastball pitches.  Per 100 pitches, Duda has been worth 0.82 runs above average (RAA).  He has struggled somewhat against sliders (-0.70 RAA) but had success against the cutter (2.61 RAA), curve (1.26 RAA) and splitter (0.27) while only faltering slightly against the changeup (-0.13 RAA).  For a still young hitter, it’s encouraging that Duda has been able to hit different pitches.

Defensively, however, has been Duda’s Achilles’ heel.  Playing right field full time, Duda has logged 433.2 innings, committing two errors in 84 chances, a .976 fielding percentage.  Advanced fielding metrics are even more cruel.  According to Baseball Info Solutions, Duda has cost the Mets eight runs on defense, six as a result of poor range and two as a result of a poor arm.  Utilizing Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) yields a similar result.  Duda has posted a -10.6 UZR so far this season, -5.4 from his arm, -4.8 from his lack of range and -0.4 from the two errors.  In short, Duda’s defense is well below average.

Overall, Duda owns an fWAR of 0.2, despite a wRC+ of 121 and good offensive numbers.  It’s obvious Duda is one of the better hitters in the Mets lineup, but is a liability on defense.  The odds of Duda’s defense improving in the long term, let alone this season, are probably slim-the best he can do is try to get better reads on fly balls hit his way.  Still, the Mets need his bat, and if he continues to grow as a hitter, Duda can hopefully negate the weaknesses he creates on defense.