USATSI_7996448_110579513_lowres

Lucas Duda hit a 450-foot HR, looks in command

Lucas Duda crushed a 450-foot, second-decker, solo home run in the eighth inning Tuesday that gave the Mets a two-run lead >> Watch here.

“It was a pitch up, and I was lucky enough to get the barrel on it,” Duda said. “I hit it pretty good.”

Duda, 28, leads the team with 15 home runs. He’s batting just .261, but with 22 doubles, 50 RBI and a .357 OBP.

He’s batting .313 with a .409 OBP since June 22, during which he has reached base in 23 of 25 games.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

He was too patient at the start of the season. Now, he looks to be in total control of his at bats. He’s no longer falling behind. He’s being aggressive, but selective. Last night, he crushed a 3-1 fastball looking like a calm, in-command, veteran hitter. He’s 28. It’s time for him to turn a corner, if he’s going to do it, and he’s very much looking like the hitter Sandy Alderson and his staff expected Duda to be.




137 comments
Marc Singleton
Marc Singleton

Duda is the undisputed KING of the solo home run!  

baseballnblues
baseballnblues

It's all about the disappearance of "hunting for strikes". Apparently, that is a really stupid idea considering how much more contact the Mets have been making since it has been gone. Situational hitting...it's pretty simple because it has worked since about 1885.

lindro88
lindro88

Where are those people who were So upset when they picked Duda over Ike?  Honestly, you would have thought they traded Keith in his prime.  It was comical. All of a sudden a guy everyone wanted out of town for years, was the guy with the "higher ceiling" How did that work out so far.  Ike barely gets a start over Gabby Sanchez these days.  One guy was particular crazy about it.  I wish this was the old system, where you could pull up old posts.

dave42
dave42

I was also curious to see about Matt's contention that Lucas was too passive at the plate in the first part of the year.  Since Lamar Johnson took over as hitting coach, Duda is hitting .287/.388/.567 in 157 at bats vs .232/.301/.394 in 142 at bats with Hudgens.  Hmmm....

dave42
dave42

I'm curious to see what the Mets' brass "expected" out of Lucas so I'm doing a sort of John Sickels Prospect Retrospective for Lucas:


Lucas Duda was the Mets' 7th round pick out of USC in 2007.  He hit .275 in his Trojan career, with 11 HR and 81 RBI in 143 games there, 67 walks and 88 strikeouts.  If you go back to 2009, he was the Mets' 41st ranked prospect on Mets Minors.  His college numbers and first three years in the minors would not have warranted Duda being better than a C level prospect, if that high.


It wasn't until 2010 that he had a breakout year, first hitting .286/.411/.503 in AA and then.314/.389/.610 in 70 games in AAA Buffalo (31 walks 57 Ks).  In 29 games in NY that year he hit .202/.261/.417 and going into 2011 he was their #9 prospect. 


in 2011, he continued to dominate AAA, going .302/.414/.597 in 38 games with 23 walks and 27 Ks.  Then in 100 major league games he hit .292/.370/.482 with 10 HR and 50 RBI.  He played about half that season at first base when Ike got hurt.  His OPS at 1B was .884 compared to .821 in RF.  Not big enough a disparity to be concerned - yet.  He was just 25 that year.  Based on 2010 and 2011, there was certainly reason for optimism.


In 2012, he hit .239/.329/.389 playing the majority of his time in right field, with just 6 appearances at 1st base. 


In 2013, he hit .223/.352/.415 still mostly in RF. 


In his career, he has 527 at bats as a 1B, 373 at LF and 427 at RF.  His career OPS as a LF is .743, as a RF is .761 and as a 1B it's .829.  He has often said he's most comfortable at first base.  Not comparing the two, but Frank Thomas is another guy I remember saying he was much more comfortable playing first base than DHing and the numbers bear that out as his career OPS is 270 points higher when he played first.  Duda's big problem is that the platoon split looks real and spectacular - .837 vs righties (1041 at bats) and .621 vs lefties (362 at bats).  This year it's even more stark - .916 vs .503.


So with a right-handed compliment, Lucas appears to be the real deal - a top 10-12 first baseman.  That is, this is what we can expect of him, it's not an illusion of small sample size. 

joe21
joe21

Duda has been more than serviceable so far this year; maybe fans can start pointing the finger in the Wright direction. if you want to size up players who have fallen short of offensive expectations, you can start with DW. he is being paid top dollar and is well short of delivering. if DW and Grandy were even close to what they are being paid, Duda would look like a huge bonus.


but everyone wants to focus on Tejada's bat? it is the big salaries underperforming, especially on this West Coast trip

Dave D'Agnese
Dave D'Agnese

Duda isn't good enough to be the primary power threat in the lineup. If the LF and SS positions can be filled with legit bats to provide him protection then Duda is just fine at first for me. It's sht or get off the pot time now. Either trade for viable hitters and make a run or try to beef up for next year and evaluate the young kids against mlb pitching. Please stop running young and abreu out there.

rf04
rf04

I think this is the result of being patient and putting together good ABs. You see enough major league pitching - you get better at recognizing pitches - and more importantly the ones you can hit.


I see people give Tejada crap and say that results matter more than having good ABs - but I think this is a good illustration of good ABs leading to good results. That's why Tejada has hit relatively well lately (for the type of hitter he is). I think Duda and Tejada are improving and I think it's because of their approach. In contrast - Lagares is more of a hacker, so you probably won't ever see him with a .340 OBP unless he's tearing the cover off the ball. 


Some guys come into the league and can just hit, but there's only a few of them. The rest need to develop, and I think Duda is developing nicely right before our eyes. d'Arnaud keeps hitting, and a good LF to protect, and we could have something here.

fatherflot
fatherflot

They used to call Travis Hafner "Pronk"  -- which was a combination of his two nicknames-- "Project" and "Donkey".  Too bad that's been taken.  Duda fits that description perfectly.  Nice to see the "project" part making progress.

zoddie
zoddie

*ahem* Told you so.

bsp123
bsp123

Nice homer.  One thing I noticed, no one in the dugout was at all excited about tacking on another run.  This has been on going all year.  There is no excitement with this team.

Vincent Santiago
Vincent Santiago

Lucas is having a super bearable year and that is very surprising.

ken1010
ken1010

It seems like Duda is rounding into an average first baseman - perhaps Adam Laroche level.  Of the 11 NL first baseman who played enough games to be "qualifiers", Duda is 6th in  OPS, Sandy's favorite stat.  That puts him in the middle. Add his fielding, and maybe he's a little below average.  

That's fine if the rest of the team is great, he won't hold you back.  But that's not where the Mets are.

We need a solid cleanup hitter or two and Duda isn't it.   Let's get that for LF, but if that's not possible, we might have a better chance upgrading first base.

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

Like once before, long term, Duda thrived having an every day job at 1B.


Bring in a good offensive SS and perhaps a LF, Duda at 1B will work. 

Kevin Connelly
Kevin Connelly

shows what happens when players move away from the hitting mandates and philosophies issued by the experts of the front office

nncyel
nncyel

@lindro88 Lots of posters just want to yell and scream, rant and rave, about something, anything. The Ike trade was just the soup de jour at the time. Very rarely is there any solid analysis behind the sound and fury. It signifies nothing.

dave42
dave42

@lindro88  oh I was horrified by the Ike trade.  See below - I was wrong.  If you look at Fangraphs WAR for 1B for the month of June and the month of July for the majors, do you know who comes up #5 in all of baseball for both months?  That would be Lucas. 

futuregm
futuregm

@dave42 Ehh, the firing of Hudgens  pretty much coincided with Ike getting traded and Duda taking over 1B full time. Both playing everyday and knowing he has some job security has also helped.

rf04
rf04

@dave42 Interesting.

I wonder if he's seeing less pitches per AB in that span - and if so how much less? Like is he being more aggressive or just hitting better? Eh, it's probably best not to think too much about it - which is what I assume Lucas is doing.

futuregm
futuregm

@dave42 thank you so much for posting a well thought out comment on here. I have wasted my lunch hour reading unrealistic suggestions and uninformed comments. Good job.

psi1
psi1

Totally agree about David Wright. A good player but that said a very overrated player over his career. Perhaps having lousy teammates for most of his career and being hit in the head has much to do with it, but I'd love to see his stats in situations where the team is up or down by 2 runs or less in games. Particularly late in games. A contemporary who I would have much rather had is Chase Utley.

futuregm
futuregm

@joe21 I wouldnt say Wright and Granderson are under performing their contracts, I would say they are underperforming your unrealistic expectations. Granderson was a great pickup this offseason and if you could forget about his horrid April, hes been exceptional from May 1st on. Wright on the other hand, his average has been up and down all year but still is producing runs and and getting on base a very solid clip. He is still a top 5 all around 3B in this league. If your going to criticize David Wright for underperforming his contract you should go and do the same for Derek Jeter. 

futuregm
futuregm

@bsp123 They seem pretty excited waving the towels after every hit they get? I guess you don't watch many Met games. 

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

@ken1010 The team's long term goal is to win on pitching and just enough offense. 


I don't think the rest of the team has to be great. They have to be on the whole like him -- pretty good. If D'Arnaud hits, Murphy gives you his usual, Wright is Wright, etc., Duda works okay. True enough you need at least one more bat, maybe two, but they know that. The team is not quite there yet.

futuregm
futuregm

@ken1010 I wouldn't say hes below average since he tied with Chris Davis for the best fielding percentage in the league among qualified first baseman. Only committing 2 errors all year I might add. Hes also shown he can cover some decent ground for a big guy given his size. 

zoddie
zoddie

It does? How so? Did Duda get traded to a different organization with a different hitting philosophy?

Because Duda EXEMPLIFIES the Mets hitting philosophy.

lindro88
lindro88

@nncyel  True.  I just thought that one was particularly odd, considering Ike was one of the most despised players on this site. 

lindro88
lindro88

@dave42 @lindro88  I wasn't banging the drum for Duda.  I just couldn't understand how anyone could be that upset over the decision.  seemed like a no win at the time.  Give the brass some credit for getting that right.  Imagine if they traded Duda.  Ike would be long gone by now as well. 

dave42
dave42

 @dave42  Lucas took over 1B in early April.  He has 1 game in the outfield this year.

dave42
dave42

@rf04 @dave42  according to fangraphs, the number of pitches seen per plate appearance is almost identical between April/May and June/July - 4.15 vs 4.16.  So it ain't that!

dave42
dave42

 @dave42  thank you - I had to know as my first reaction to the Ike trade was one of horror at them making the wrong decision.  Oops.

rf04
rf04

I think it's fair to say Wright has underperformed. I think (and hope) even he would agree. It's tricky bringing the contract into the discussion because Wright does a LOT for this team. When he is in the lineup it benefits everybody. 

But he also has a history that suggests he will pick it up in the 2nd half - he's just too good a player to not improve his overall numbers. If he doesn't, and ends the season at .280 12 HR 65 RBI - then yes, he underperformed... but I think we can give him a pass considering he hasn't been awful this year and we have no reason to believe he will be going forward.

joe21
joe21

  umm..Derek Jeter? what does he have to do with anything?

not underperforming? he is on pace for his worst season ever as a pro by any measure. BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, RBI...every single metric is not just below his career average, but well below any season he has ever had. He represents 25% of the payroll and he is putting up sub-par numbers in every single category, but I guess that I am being unreasonable to expect to even come close to his averages making $20M a year. my main point is that the fans go insane over the production from secondary pieces, while remaining silent on the expected big bats. he is 3 for 21 on this trip without any extra base hits.


He has been totally underperforming this year and your defense of him makes my point exactly. give him a pass and blame Tejada for the lack of offense

ken1010
ken1010

@Joe Paulson @ken1010

You're right that the goal appears to be great pitching and just enough offense. Duda provides just enough.

But I still think we need one top-20-in-MLB bat that other teams will be scared of, and that we can rely on for a fair share of big RBI's.  We don't have that now, and I hope they are aiming high for LF.

ken1010
ken1010

Thanks for the facts.  I guess I'm expecting too much from first basemen fielding, having watched Herndandez, , Olerud, even Doug Mientkiewicz.  Maybe he a better fielder than many at 1B now, like Ryan Howard who is completely immobile.  But watching him field at 1b most nights, he seems a bit inconsistent.

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

@zoddie Exactly. If they had a Duda-type hitter at every position (roughly) I think this regime would love that. 

futuregm
futuregm

@dave42 He has one game in the outfield, cool. During April Ike was still there to compete with Duda for the position. After he was traded, Duda probably needed some time to collect mentally and realize the position was his after 2+ seasons of being jerked around. This proves my point further.

rf04
rf04

@dave42 @rf04 Same approach, better results. You get enough reps, eventually you start to get it (if you're ever going to). Same with d'Arnaud and Tejada and Wheeler and Familia, Lagares (to a degree) - and maybe some day Flores. It's fun to see it when guys work out. Maybe Alderson knows something about baseball?

anymos
anymos

@rf04 Don't discount the shoulder.  David just plays and doesn't talk about injuries, but if he had to get a cortisone shot, its obviously affecting him.

futuregm
futuregm

@joe21 He represents 25% percent of a very low payroll, and if you can do elementary school math you should be able to figure out that percentages are bigger with a lower total amount. 


His stats are the lowest of his career, still he ranks pretty high up in the those categories among qualified 3B. 


Derek Jeter plays a very similar role on the Yankees as David does to the Mets. It wouldn't  be fair to say they are both under performing their contracts, but you have to take into account their intangibles. They are both captains of their teams and both a great guys to have in the clubhouse. They're leaders and guys that know how to play the game hard. 


He is 3 for 21, damn. I heard Miggy just broke out of an O-for as well. 


I can care less about your main point. I did not once say anything about Tejada in my previous reply, I just simply am criticizing your opinions on how Wright and Granderson have performed.

randyjaxn
randyjaxn

@ken1010  he has seemed to handle balls in the dirt fairly well per my eye test

dave42
dave42

 @dave42  Let's go back further then.  Dave Hudgens was hired as hitting coach in 2012.  In 2012, Duda's OPS was .718, then .767 in '13 and .695 in the first two months this year.


In 2011 his OPS was .852 and in the 2 months since Hudgens was fired, it's been .955