So we are now over the quarter mark of the baseball season, and with all the injuries on this Mets team, to their pitchers and offense, one can't forget the consistency of Mr. Duda Smash himself. Even Lucas himself probably came into the season thinking to himself, "self, I finally get to start full time for this team, I'm coming off a 30 homer season, and they STILL wanna platoon me against lefties. Sheesh".
Well, thankfully, that never happened (especially with the Mayberry has been hitting). I've written about Duda before in the recent past. I've talked about the man who, kinda remains shall we say 'well rested' in his MLB career due to all the chaos over the first base situation with this franchise during his young career. While at the same time also seemingly now entering the 'prime' of his career in that age 29 season and going forward. So what are we to make of Lucas going forward?
Is Lucas Duda going to go on a hot streak and eclipse the 30 homer plateau again this year? Based on this Mets offense recently, will any opposing pitcher allow Lucas enough at bats to even attempt that smash or simply start walking him more? Or perhaps most importantly, will Lucas Duda produce at an all star level anyway, regarding of homerun total, based on his other attributes.
Come to think of it, the 2015 Duda is kinda hitting (statistically) like the 2011 Duda. A then 25 year old, second year MLBer Lucas played in 100 game that year, sported a sexy .292 BA, and a .370 OBP. Perhaps we can then argue about the reasons for the next 3 seasons of his career, which included more power, but less hitting (as far as average). Of course we can mention the 'experiment' in the outfield, the constant competition with 'that other guy' for playing time at first, and an apparent lack of true confidence and possible need to please more with the long ball than a hit. But everything seems to be coming together for Lucas in 2015.
Now, I'm not going to sugar coat everything here with rose colored glasses. Duda is currently hitting a ridiculous .400+ against opposing lefties this year, which I assume won't stick long term. And he is only hitting in the .250 range against rightness, soooooo go figure. Anyway, back to the point, is Lucas ready to produce big time for this team, with more pure hits and walks and not just homer during this season?
I believe it was Keith Hernández in the booth who argued against any concern for Lucas lack of power this year during a game last week, stating that all he needs is some warmer weather, and his ball will start flying. Well, it looked bright and sunny on my TV screen at city field today, and he crushed two balls to right. But does he need to continue to hit homers for this team, is his new plate approach going to hamper any expectations on continued 30+ season power, or will he simply hit, hit hard, hit to all directions across the diamond, and put up his 100+ homer season that way?
I'm going to put my money on the latter because I believe in Lucas Duda. He just doesn't seem to be the guy anymore who appeared to pray for walks, and only hit monster homers and doubles when nobody was on base. The 2015 Lucas Duda looks 100% legit. And, you know what, I think I'm also going give credit to the coaching staff for their managerial decisions in regard to HIS spot in the batting order (I won't discuss everyone else's because I'm keeping this post positive).
I like the idea of Duda hitting third instead of cleanup. And, I guess technically, if the Mets continue to often go with that pitcher batting 8th thing, its Makes Duda seemingly a cleanup hitter still anyway, but regardless I like Duda in a spot that around the MLB has often been a spot for a teams best overall player and hitter.
Am I saying that he is the best player on this team? Well, you know what, yes I am. He is easily the most feared hitter in the Mets lineup, and when TDA and Wright come back he will STILL be the most feared hitter in the lineup. And if Duda continues to sparingly go ahead and ruin a teams shift with hits to left, he will be even more worrisome for all those involved around the league.
Now, back to the random 2015-2011 reference, I'm not saying that Duda will only hit 10 homers like he did then (it was only 100 games anyway), but what if...... what if Duda maintains a batting average over .275, with his consistent knack for walks anyway, to go along with his double and homerun power? Would that ultimately lead to even more production in 2015 then in 2014, even if factoring in possibly 20-25 homers instead of 30? I mean obviously we can't compare his RBI totals right now to previous years because..........(nevermind I'm staying positive and not mentioning offense). I believe that Lucas and his overall production and contribution to this team will be higher then in any other year of his career. There's just too much raw power and talent here, and he can still take a walk, and i'd like to think his BA against lefties will remain a positive one, while his numbers against righties will go up, especially when guys like Wright and TDA are surrounding him in the lineup ever day against them.
So what do you guys think? Will Duda have less homers this year, and counter that with his best overall offensive season of his career in all other offensive categories?