It is hard to believe I have been writing articles for Mack’s Mets for only a year.  When Mack asked, I figured I’d be good for a few articles and that would be it.  Here I am, 100+ articles later.  Go figure.

Going back, I believe my first article was Lucas Duda on the couch – let's analyze the chap's inferior hitting several weeks into the 2014 season - the theme being, what did the facts have to say about Lucas’ plate passivity resulting in his non-performance up to that point in the latter half of May 2014?

It turned out that Duda had 3 distinctives that said a lot:

  1. He hit really, really well when he ended his at bats on zero or one strike of any combo (e.g., 3-1) – he hit like Babe Ruth in those counts
  2. He hit incredibly badly when he allowed the count to get to 2 strikes – he hit like another Ruth, Ruth Buzzi (old Laugh In comedienne, if you do not recall)
  3. His ratio of category #1 was way too low – far too few at bats ended on 0 or 1 strike counts, and way too many ended on counts with 2 strikes – 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2.  Prime cause? Taking too many fat pitches early in counts.

After I wrote that article, he suddenly started upping the % of at bats ending in 0 or 1 strike.  Result?  A hitting surge for Lucas from June through season’s end in 2014, surely at least partially due to not taking nearly so many first pitch meatballs for strikes.

But this is 2015.

So as of today (through games of May 15, 2015) what is the story?  Especially urgent to consider, in a month (May) where he has just 1 RBI.

He’s somewhat better, but still needs to be more aggressive.  That’s my take.

  • He’s had 53 at bats ending in 0 or 1 strike, and 76 with 2 strikes.
  • In those 53 at bats, he is 23 for 53, with 9 doubles, all 3 of his homers and 10 of his RBIs.  Not Ruthian, so far, but not bad.
  • Particularly, when he’d end his at bats in 2015 on a zero strike count, he is 14-28.  That is Ruthian, but happens again too infrequently (only 28 of 129 at bats).

In the other 76 at bats, where he lets the count get to 2 strikes and any number of balls, he is just 14 for 76, with two doubles, no homers and 3 RBIs and 31 Ks.  Utterly awful in that regard, once again, in 2015.

I could again compare him to other hitters, which is what I did the last time to highlight how passive he was last year compared to hard-hitting peers like Yasiel Puig and Miguel Cabrera, who were far more aggressive – but I won’t.

Sure, some of it could be he fouls off a 1 strike pitch that they hammer, and then finds himself at 2 strikes.  But he still needs to just be more aggressive swinging at zero strike and 1 strike counts – BECAUSE WHEN IT GETS TO 2 STRIKES, HE IS AWFUL. PERIOD.

By corollary, he is much better swinging at almost any strike, when he has zero or 1 strike, except perhaps strikes on the black at the knees, because (not to be redundant) he stinks when the count goes to 2 strikes. 

Stinks.  Has always stunk at it, and likely always will.  Always an obscenely low average, with virtually no power or run production.

Will he get more aggressive and emulate last year’s power numbers? 

I sure hope so.  Not just for the added production, but it pains me to see this guy up when it gets to 2 strikes.  He ought to save the pitcher the aggravation of throwing another pitch or two, and just sit down.

That’s my take – what is yours?


Mack Ade said...

Morning Tom -

I think Lucas is pressing and trying to solve the entire team problems with every one of his swings.

He plays so much better when everyone else is hitting well also.

Reese Kaplan said...

I think Duda is a Kevin McReynolds type -- a good complementary player to others in the lineup but not enough to be "the guy" to carry a team.

Mack Ade said...

Well put, Reese

Anonymous said...

I agree with the thesis, Tom. If hitters go deep into counts, they will walk more, strike out more, and hit for less power.

Lucas needs to let it fly earlier in the count. In fact, I've never been a fan of the "deep count" hitting philosophy that Alderson has installed organizational-wide. For some players, it works. But for a power hitter, not a fan. HRs happen early in the count, not with 2 strikes.

James Preller

Thomas Brennan said...

James, glad to see we think alike on this. Lucas has been awful with 2 strikes his whole career, worse than most. Simple answer - avoid it as much as possible. He'll flourish.

Mack's Mets © 2012