After attempting to trade one of Ike Davis or The Duda last offseason, the Mets went into spring training with 1st base arguably the biggest question mark on the team. March was supposed to help decide that, but both players hardly got enough ABs to separate themselves because of nagging injuries, and neither did much in their opportunities. Basically because of a formality, as well as what had long been rumored as the Mets’ preference, Terry Collins named Lucas Duda his starting 1st baseman, with Ike on bench duties. Everyone knew going forward that 2 left-handed 1st baseman on the roster was illogical, and so the possibility Ike could be gone was still seriously in the air. He did well in his small-sample of opportunities, including a walk-off grand slam the day after The Duda hit 2 monster shots in his first ABs as “starting” first baseman. Eventually, Ike was traded to Pittsburgh, and though Lucas started off slowly, he eventually more or less solidified his potential to be one of the top slugging 1st baseman in baseball going forward.
How He Fared in 2014:
Sep 27, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) and teammates celebrate his two run walk off home run during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Citi Field. New York Mets won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Lucas Duda has always been a notoriously slow starter, even before having the security of knowing he had an official starting gig where he was comfortable. Despite those home runs that gave the Mets their 1st win of 2014, Duda once more started off slowly, bottoming out with a .229/.330/.410/.740 line on June 12 in a 1-5 extra inning loss to MIL. He went 2-4 the next day with 2 doubles, including an RBI one in a 6-2 win over SD. The season picked up from there. On June 17, he hit his 9th home run, beginning a stretch where he hit 22 home runs in the final 91 games of the season. At a point in June, July and August, Lucas Duda was arguably the top slugging 1st baseman in baseball. He finished the season batting .253, with 30 HR and 92 RBI, slugging .481 and getting on base at a .349 clip. Though he isn’t as adept at 1st as Ike or Keith Hernandez, Lucas Duda was no slouch, moving very well for a big man, and at times, dazzling.
Other than Jacob deGrom and the entire pitching corps, Lucas Duda has to be called the MVP of the 2014 New York Mets. Although…
Areas to Improve Upon:
One word- the arm I personally throw with.
(Yeah, yeah, I know. That’s 6 words.)
Lucas Duda HAS GOT to get better against left-handed pitching. It was a transitional year, however, and I would call his PAs against southpaws a small-sample size: he batted .180 with 2 HR and 10 RBI with 11 walks in 125 Plate Appearances. He began getting more ABs against them as the year came to a close, with some better results, including a walk-off home run the 2nd-to-last day of the season. So, it’s up to Lucas to make Terry comfortable filling his name in against the lefties more often.
Projected Role in 2015:
Lucas Duda is the Mets 1st baseman for the foreseeable future, until some down below proves better (echem, echem…Dominic Smith…echem, echem…)
Contract status and Trade Rumors:
Don’t expect the Mets to trade Duda until his contract is closer to up or, again, someone down below is knocking on the door. He will get a nice raise through arbitration this offseason after making around 1.6 million this year, though he will not be eligible for free agency till 2018. Look forward to The Duda crushing more home runs to the Shea bridge as he did with his 30th home run ball.