Where Does Duda Fit?

By Andrew Battifarano

At the beginning of the season the Mets outfield was considered one of the worst, if not the worst in all of baseball. While many felt that the defense was part of this problem, others felt that Lucas Duda‘s offense could compensate for the lack of range in the outfield. In 2012 Duda mostly played right field during the regular season, struggling at the plate at times, as well as missing many chances in the outfield. During the season the Mets even sent Duda down to Triple A Buffalo to refine his swing.

May 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Lucas Duda (21) tries to catch a foul ball off the bat of Chicago Cubs third baseman

Luis Valbuena

(not pictured) during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This year he was moved to left field, with the thinking he would have to cover less ground. With him moving less and his potential power at the plate, it looked like Duda could have a breakout year. Well with most the 2013 season gone by, Lucas Duda’s status has changed from everyday left fielder to very uncertain.

While with the big club this season, Duda did have 11 homers, not a terrible number. Although the power has been there, albeit sporadically, he only has driven in 23 runs and hit .235. His OBP is solid at .353, but his run producing is very low for a middle of the order power-type hitter. This season he has also only hit .143 with runners in scoring position. His offense is very up and down, and he has been very inconsistent in his short tenure. Jerry Manuel once bragged about his power, and Duda has shown it once in awhile, but he at times has looked lost at the plate.

While his offense has been up and down with the Mets, his defense has been a little bit more stable, but in the negative direction. While moving from right to left should have been an easier transition, he has still looked befuddled by balls in the outfield that are caught by almost every outfielder. Before is injury, he had a -12 in the defensive runs saved category. Not exactly something to write home about.

During June, Duda went down with an injury, and has been recovering in the minor leagues. In that time, the Mets have acquired speedster Eric Young, Jr. Young has been tremendous at the plate, running the bases, and making spectacular catches. The past few days Young has walked off with his first Met homer, robbed a sure RBI hit from Todd Helton and scored from second on an infield hit.

Young has not only solidified himself at the top of the limeup, but in the outfield for the New York Mets. Coupled with Juan Lagares, the Met outfield has improved exponentially since Opening Day.

That leaves the question, what do the Mets do with Duda? His outfield spot has to been pretty much taken by Young. And while Duda actually is not a terrible first baseman, that position has an absolute log jam right now. Ike Davis has been much improved since his call up and has been mostly the every day first baseman. Josh Satin has been getting time now and again because of his knack for hitting.

Not only do Davis and Satin get time at first, but it’s looking more and more like the Mets may have to try and play Wilmer Flores there as well. Flores who has been able to hit, has not had a solid position with the organization. With his lack of range, first base might be the only option for the young slugger.

The Mets have a bit of maneuvering to do with Duda. His potential has kept him around, but will he ever fulfill it? If he’s not a first baseman it would not be a shock to see him traded for someone else. Time will only tell.

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