New York Mets News

Sandy Alderson made right choice at first base

By Andrew Battifarano

Jul 22, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New York Mets first baseman

Lucas Duda

(21) heads towards home plate after hitting a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

There were two first basemen in Flushing to start the season — Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. Obviously both players couldn’t start at the same time, so a decision needed to be made.

On April 18, the so-called “log jam” was cleared when Ike Davis was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lucas Duda took over the reins as the starting first baseman. People wondered if general manager Sandy Alderson made the right decision.

Three months later, the answer is quite clear.

The Mets looked down and out against the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning on Friday night and appeared to be on the verge of dropping a second consecutive game. But with Daniel Murphy‘s leadoff double and David Wright‘s RBI single, the Mets were right back in it. Though without Duda’s heroics, New York might not have completed the comeback.

Duda swung at the first pitch from former Met Francisco Rodriguez and belted a two-run, game-winning home run into the right field bullpen. It was the slugger’s third homer since returning from the All-Star break, which accounts for all of New York’s home runs during that time. The latest was a huge blast that propelled the Mets to a much-needed victory.

It’s not the first time Duda has come through in a big spot, and it doesn’t seem like it will be the last time. Time and time again the 28-year-old has shown he does deserve this job. His 17 home runs and .260/.359/.497 slash line prove that.

His .855 OPS is third in the National League.  Even though his walk rate has dropped slightly from 2013, his strikeout rate has decreased nearly five percent. Duda’s 2.1 WAR isn’t too shabby either. Overall, Duda has put together a fine season.

Ike Davis, on the other hand, has just five home runs and a .707 OPS in 80 games since joining the Pirates. Probably not the production Pittsburgh expected out of the one-time 32 home run hitter. It remains to be seen what will become of the prospects the Mets received for Davis, but it seems the right decision was made, even if that just meant Duda getting the starting spot.

Sandy Alderson definitely deserves some of the credit for this. He probably should have made the decision during the offseason or during spring training, but the correct move was made. Duda has flourished in his first full year at first base and Davis has been average at best for the Pirates.

Before the season started, I was in the camp who wanted Davis to be the starting first baseman. I felt all of his troubles would be gone, and that he would succeed like he did in the second half of the 2012 season. I admit, I was dead wrong. Duda has proven he was the right choice. But in this situation, I’m fine with being wrong. Good thing Sandy Alderson was not.