This post originally appeared on Dec. 19, 2013…
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
The most likely scenario for the Mets at first base going into next season is some combination of the left-handed Lucas Duda and the right-handed Josh Satin.
Duda and Satin have pronounced handedness splits, putting up far better numbers against pitchers who throw with the opposite hand, so – in order to maximize the production from that position – Terry Collins should use the two players in a relatively strict platoon based on the opposing pitcher.
The ratio of right-handed and left-handed pitchers in the league varies a bit from year to year, but 25 percent lefties to 75 percent righties is about average. This means Duda would get about 525 plate appearances and Satin would get 175.
Duda’s line against right-handed pitching in 2013 was .240/.369/.462, good for an .831 OPS. This is close to his career numbers, so it should be a reliable estimate of what to expect next season. Satin is more difficult to pinpoint because he has just 104 plate appearances against lefties for his career. His 2013 line against lefties was extremely good (.317/.404/.476) but it’s a safe assumption he’ll have some regression towards the mean, so – to be conservative – I’ll trust his overall line for last season (.279/.376/.405).
Duda’s 525 plate appearances plus Satin’s 175 returns a .250/.371/.448 line with an OPS of .819. The pair would combine for 146 hits (including 39 doubles and 25 HR) and 99 walks. This production would make for a well above-average offensive first baseman, tied with Prince Fielder for 11th best OPS among qualified first basemen in 2013…
Obviously, projections can falter and injuries, decline, bad luck or failure to stick with a strict platoon could all combine to result in first base production falling short of this estimate, but using this arrangement in 2014 gives the team an excellent chance at strong numbers from the position.
Platoons are often derided as a way to hide bad players, but the Mets in particular have a history of employing them to get the best out of their players. The 1969 and 1986 championship teams featured productive platoons and, while the 2014 Mets still look a long ways away from postseason contention, it’s a good reminder that the technique can and has worked.