Lucas Duda is batting .306 with a .359 OBP, a team-leading three home runs and six RBI in 39 plate appearances this season.
He tied a career high with four hits in Monday’s win against the D-Backs, during which he also had two RBI.
Duda has started five of nine games since being named the team’s primary first baseman, during which he is batting .333 (9-for-27).
“He’s swinging good,” Terry Collins said Monday night. “You let him just get in that batter’s box and go get ’em. He’s making a nice run at it right now.”
Collins put Duda in left field during Monday’s game after Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson were forced to leave the game due to injury.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I really, really hope Terry doesn’t try to solve his outfield shortage by putting Duda back in left field. I guess it’s OK for a game or two, to buy time until Granderson is feeling better and Chris Young is activated from the disabled list. But, honestly, he’s been playing so well of late, I’m not even sure it’s worth risking a disruption in whatever groove he has going on right now…
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
I’ve long been a defender of Duda and I’m not surprised he’s hitting so well to start the season. That said, putting him back in left field would be a big mistake.
For one thing, he’s not just bad defensively in the outfield — he’s unbelievably bad. He has cost the team a whopping 42 runs in the outfield over his career and even in his strong offensive seasons, his outfield play negates his value almost entirely. At first base, he’s a tick above average and his production overall is solid. In the outfield, he becomes replacement level.
There’s also the question of Duda’s defensive discomfort having an impact at the plate. For his career, he’s hit .274 with an .824 OPS as a first baseman. At left field, his average drops to .228 and his OPS to .743. There’s no question that he’s in a groove right now, which the team desperately needs to continue with the loss of their most effective player in Lagares. Moving Duda to left field to fill a hole would be short-sighted and hurt the team more than it would help.