Opinion: Lucas Duda is two-thirds the player the Mets need him to be

berkonavatarsmallBen Berkon, Contributor to MetsBlog.com:

Lucas Duda has exceeded expectations since Ike Davis was traded to the Pirates in May. To date, the 28-year-old Duda has an 11.8 percent walk rate with 22 home runs spanning 450 plate appearances, as well as a park-adjusted 136 wRC+. The notoriously poor fielder has even looked more nimble at first base, gloving an impressive 6 Defensive Runs Saved in 926 innings.

Yet, with Duda’s sole possession of first base, his extreme vulnerability against left-handed pitching has only become more apparent. The left-handed hitter has accumulated a pathetic .156 batting average and 39 wRC+ with just one home run over 87 plate appearances this season against southpaws.


MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies


Need to Know: wRC+ is park and league-adjusted, allowing a comparison of players who played in different years, parks, and leagues,” according to FanGraphs.com. “League average wRC+ for position players is always 100. If a player has a 110 wRC+, they are 10 percentage points better than league average offensively.”


Duda’s stark weakness isn’t anything new, however. In fact, he has struggled at the major-league level against lefties since 2010, owning a .210 batting average and 74 wRC+ over 431 career plate appearances.

Considering the dire need to improve the team’s overall 88 wRC+ (tied for 24th in the league) and 92 home runs (tied for 26th in the league), the Mets can’t afford to wait for Duda to overcome this flaw. And while the team’s voids at shortstop and left field are certainly more marked, Mets GM Sandy Alderson must also look into acquiring a right-handed hitting platoon with Duda for 2015.

The obvious and most immediate solution would be signing free-agent Michael Cuddyer



Cuddyer, 35, has owned a fruitful 131 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in his career. Paired with his competent 105 wRC+ against righties, Cuddyer’s experience in the outfield could additionally provide an upgrade over the 2014 Chris Young experiment, too. However, in the likelihood the Mets don’t want to give Cuddyer, say, a two-year ,$25 million contract, Alderson could alternatively check on the availability of other lefty-mashers, like Chris Carter and Gaby Sanchez.


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With the rapid emergence of top prospects Jon Singleton and George Springer in Houston, the 27-year-old Carter could become a viable trade target for the Mets. Despite whiffing at a career 33.5 percent rate, the Astros’ slugger also boasts a 120 wRC+ and 5.9 percent home-runs-to-at-bats clip against left-handers. The combination of Carter and Duda sharing first base could realistically net the Mets 40 home runs next season.

And if the Astros’ asking price for Carter is too rich, Gaby Sanchez could be a savvy Plan B for the Mets. The Pirates have correctly used the 33-year-old Sanchez in a platoon, but with Pedro Alvarez likely moving to first base full time, Sanchez might be the odd man out in 2015. Although Sanchez’s success against left-handed pitching has dipped in 2014, slashing a 119 wRC+, the seven-year veteran still owns an impressive 141 wRC+ over his career.

As the Mets prepare for contention in 2015 and beyond, it’s important for Alderson to be honest—at least, internally—about the team’s present weaknesses. Duda will be 29 on Opening Day next season. No longer a prospect, platooning Duda wouldn’t be “stunting his growth,” but rather, utilizing his strongest asset for the greater good of the team.

Consciously wasting 150-200 plate appearances on an inept hitter goes against the fabric of winning. If the Mets currently lack the correct player for the right situation, then it certainly behooves them to change their future fate and acquire that player this offseason.


Ben Berkon’s work has been published on Huffington Post, The Onion, and various other mainstream sites. Follow him on Twitter at @BenBerkon.




216 comments

It is posts like these that ruin this blog. Duda is having a great season, why do the "contributors" on this blog have to turn everything negative? 

mets5555
mets5555

I don't get this burkon guy with this random stat. Cuddyer is a righty obviously he's better against the lefty stop bashing duda for being weak against lefties it's normal.

Jim Lessard
Jim Lessard

I guess David Wright is only 1/3 the player we need based on this post.  He has a .620 OPS vs RHP.  That is a far bigger problem than Duda struggling against LHP.

Frankie Lam
Frankie Lam

Looking at Carter's number, he doesn't seems like an upgrade on the field, he may be an upgrade on the paycheck only.

Frankie Lam
Frankie Lam

I think in the short term, Campbell is a solution, in the longer term, Plawecki could be use as well, if he can catch about 50 games, this will be great. But I guess Plawecki needs a bit more time in AAA before actually put on the NY cap. Getting any free agent in 1B is not likely for the Mets. The money should be spend on other area of offense. 

saxon
saxon

Plawecki is 23 years old... I don't see the Mets or any other team taking a talented 23 year old catcher like Plawecki and using him as a backup in this point of his career. I believe that either TDA or Plawecki will be traded...Plawecki is the #2 prospect in the Mets system right now and viewed as a starting catcher...

Kevin Plawecki is the solution. Can back d'arnaud and split with duda. We've already seen Plawecki recently play 1B in Vegas.

kingman76
kingman76

Like anything - the more you do it the better you get.  Make him face more left handed pitchers and that average and power will go up against them.

dannym28
dannym28

dear god where do you guys find these "contributors" 

jojo218
jojo218

duda is well duda.even though he had a nice yr he is what he is. who knows this could be another ike davis or chris davis have big yr and return to what they are

baseballnblues
baseballnblues

Duda needs to play more regularly against lefties, which he has never dome in the past. Most of those at bats are against relievers or when he was playing the outfield. scared out of his blazing mind. Duda is a first baseman, period. It's no coincidence that his hitting and his fielding picked up once he started playing first regularly. There is so much more to baseball than statistical data.

sandydopey
sandydopey

Adrian Gonzalez hits .192 against lefties. How come nobody says he can't hit lefties

baseballnblues
baseballnblues

Duda needs more time against lefties. He has so many fewer at bats against left handed pitchers. He simply needs more time in the box against them. This article is filled with wonderful data and stats that don't amount to much in this instance. In fact, this type of data is good for evaluating trends to see where improvements can be made, but I think too much predicting is done using this data and quite frankly, that will only work in a video game. Human beings are different. They each come with a multitude of different talents, fears and perceptions. No wRC+ or whatever the acronym can successfully predict the success of a human being as accurately as this author seems to believe. Duda has proven he has the talent and ability to adjust at this level. He will adjust effectively against lefties if given the opportunity and some time. I'm certainly not saying that he will suddenly hit the cover off the ball, but his production against lefties will eventually approach his current production against righties. The type of player evaluation used in this article is only a fraction of the whole of a MLB baseball player. But as usual, if the right trade or player move can happen then go for it. I just want the Mets to win...when that happens I think none of us will care who it is playing anywhere on the field.

Dave D'Agnese
Dave D'Agnese

Colon and the angels are looking like a good fit right now

Harley Alderson
Harley Alderson

it would be a non issue if wright was hitting and granderson was the player we signed him to be

crafalko17
crafalko17

Platoon him and Soup. I would consider Flores except he hasn't produced at all with the bat. Either way 1B is not a position we should spend money on this offseason. 

lindro88
lindro88

Duda has shown he can hit average left handed pitching. Very few hit the top guys. Duda should get 145 starts next year.

2ndhalffun
2ndhalffun

TERRY is a puppet!!!! If Sandy wants Terry to wipe his azz Terry complies.

2ndhalffun
2ndhalffun

The Mets are not going 2 years for $25 million for Cuddyear. They will wait till next Sept for Conforto. In the mean time they will plug in Soup and MDD.

James
James

Seriously, this competent analysis that actually has some research and thought behind it "ruins" the blog because it isn't rah-rah enough for the cheerleaders?  Come on, Duda is terrible against left handers, but has shown to be a very nice player otherwise, going into the offseason creating a solid platoon there (and Cuddyer would be a perfect fit in so many ways) will be a significant way to upgrade this team.


What is the issue here?

zoddie
zoddie

@sandydopey Maybe because Gonzalez has a lifetime  .273/.338/.432 line against lefties while playing in two of the most pitcher friendly parks in baseball (SD & LA)?  Compare his .771 OPS against Duda's .607.  Not even remotely close.


Duda's been absolutely great this year.  Give him at bats vs lefties this year.  But next year he should still be platooned.

dannym28
dannym28

@sandydopey because he does just about everything else well, plus have you seen his contract

zoddie
zoddie

@Dave D'Agnese The Angels have pretty much nothing in their farm system.  Probably the worst in baseball at this point.  Not sure who they have left to give for Colon.

1harris1
1harris1

@Dave D'Agnese I wonder if the Mets would be reluctant to trade him now given the unfortunate recent events involving his mother.  Colon is obviously going through a lot personally right now.  If the Mets were to aggressively look to trade him now, how would that be perceived by other players around the league (trading a guy a week after his mother passes away)?  Baseball is a business, and the guy does make a good deal amount of money, but . . . 

zoddie
zoddie

@borsh13 Sandy deserves the credit.  Drafting is nice, but developing and having and organizational philosophy is just as, if not more important.  Omar would consistently rush players to the majors who weren't ready.  Sandy has developed pretty incredible depth at every position in the minors.  His trades have been mostly fantastic.  


Lots of GMs trade veterans for prospects.  Very few get guys like Syndergaard, TdA, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, and Zack Wheeler back.

baseballnblues
baseballnblues

@crafalko17  Flores is a great AAA hitter. aka Alex Ochoa.

zoddie
zoddie

@lindro88 After five years in the majors, Duda has a .847 OPS against righties and a .607 OPS against lefties.


Duda has shown that he CAN'T hit lefties.  So he should be platooned.  With, say, a guy like Eric Campbell or someone similar.  

zoddie
zoddie

@2ndhalffun I don't think Conforto is going to jump four or five levels in four or five months.  It would be a miracle if we see Conforto that soon.

sandydopey
sandydopey

So if you make a lot of monet you can hit .192 against lefties ?

thecasuaLGM
thecasuaLGM

@1harris1 @Dave D'Agnese He would have to clear waivers first. Angels have the best record in MLB so any team ( A's/Tigers/Seattle/ect) could block the deal. 

1harris1
1harris1

@thecasuaLGM  If they block the deal though, they risk the Mets just letting him go for nothing (and shedding his contract from their books).  Do the A's or Tigers really want to be on the hook for 11 mil. next season for Bartolo?  They can't be certain that the Mets would pull him back if they claimed him.

saxon
saxon

@borsh13 

I think Flores played 9 games in a row and then Collins said "he needs a break" [lol] and then has played the last 3 games... Hitting .273 since his much needed break...

dannym28
dannym28

@borsh13 so 2 weeks is the time we should judge players. wheeler TDA all struggled their first two weeks, heck even harvey did

zoddie
zoddie

@2ndhalffun @zoddie You're probably thinking of Nimmo.  Nimmo was drafted in 2011 and is now in AA.  Conforto is in Brooklyn.  He still has A (which he may skip or spend a couple of weeks there), A+, AA, AAA, and then the majors.  

1harris1
1harris1

@2ndhalffun @zoddie  He's not in AA.  Brooklyn is low A ball, and a few levels removed from AA.

thecasuaLGM
thecasuaLGM

@1harris1 @thecasuaLGM Do the Mets really want to let a guy with a 3.85 ERA and 161 innings pitched by Aug 22 go for nothing more than salary relief?

Alessandro Fustinoni
Alessandro Fustinoni

@zoddie @2ndhalffun  I just hope they don't wait years to bring this kid (Conforto) up. We finally drafted a college bat who pretty much was the #1 hitter in the draft, #1 major league ready bat in the draft, lets not wait 3-4 years to bring him up! He's not one of these HS kids they usually draft, don't treat him that way. The kid has an amazing stroke, makes great contact. He's going to be our present day Wright, the way he was highly touted. He should play winter ball, start at AA next season, then go to Vegas not even mid-way through the season. The kid should be here next season! Sept call up! He is that good!!! BUT, we are talking about these clowns who are making decisions, so we might see him in 2018. they're going to have to teach him the school of Alderson. OBP baby!

1harris1
1harris1

@thecasuaLGM @1harris1  I wouldn't, but this is the Mets we're talking about.  If the Wilpons are going to be this tight with the budget, perhaps that 11 mil. could be better spent elsewhere, given the surplus of pitching the team seemingly has?

thecasuaLGM
thecasuaLGM

@1harris1 @thecasuaLGM Considering the FA market in terms of offense, that 11 million may not help get the kind of impact bat the team needs for 2015. The surplus of young pitching prospects on the other hand will help with the acquisition of such a bat. We don't know what the rotation will end up being next year so that 11 million may not be better spent elsewhere. 

1harris1
1harris1

@thecasuaLGM  It may not be free agent wise.  But what about if you're looking to trade for somebody?  Again, if the Wilpons are going to hold firm on the budget, how do you trade for an impact bat (which will likely cost significant dollars)?  If you let Colon walk on a waiver claim, you now have that extra money to spend for a player via trade.


I've said repeatedly on this site that I'm actually in favor of keeping Colon, given that Harvey will be on an innings limit next season and we don't know what the deal will be with Syndergaard (and with questions concerning the physical status of Niese and Gee).  But it was written last month in a couple of the papers that the Mets wanted to get rid of Colon's contract to free up his money to spend on a bat.  I certainly wouldn't be shocked if the Mets let him go for free if they were to put him on waivers and somebody claimed hm.

thecasuaLGM
thecasuaLGM

@1harris1 My whole point at the start of this was that I do not think Colon would clear waivers for a LAA trade. I do not think the mets (especially Sandy Alderson) just let him walk for nothing. you are correct with your assessment but i just don't see this particular trade happening. 

thecasuaLGM
thecasuaLGM

@borsh13 not every team thinks of 11 million dollars in the same back breaking terms as the mets do. 

1harris1
1harris1

@thecasuaLGM @1harris1  I don't see him ultimately being traded this month either, although I'm not sure if he would clear waivers or not.  It's interesting to me that he hasn't been placed on waivers as of yet.  I guess there's a strategy which plays into that.