KONG VS. THE DUDE – Tom Brennan
Recently, Macks’ Mets prolific and analytical writer Stephen Guilbert and I both did separate articles on Lucas Duda, trying to figure out what offensive flaws are there with the Big Lebowsky and what could be helpful for Lucas to consider in fixing those problems.
“Compare and Contrast” is an analytical technique that can shed light, so let’s do that with two Met behemoths, Dinosaur Dave “Kong” Kingman and Lizard Lucas Duda.
My recollection of Kong was a guy who swung with abandon, enamored with tape measure home runs. He probably owns stock in Home Depot because they sell lumber in large sizes as well as tape measures.
Dave took a beating in the media, and quite a few fans focused on the flaws of Kong – namely, his low batting average and high strikeout rate.
I thought I’d compare and contrast Dave’s production to Duda’s. It is a little hard to do, because Duda has walked 42 times in 387 plate appearances (1 every 9.2 PAs) this year, and Dave had just 28 walks in 510 plate appearances in 1976, or one every 18.2 PAs.
Dave clearly was more of a free swinger than Lucas, judging by those #s.
So let’s forget the walk ratios for a moment and focus on official at bats: Duda has had 331 official at bats this year, and Kong had 474 AB’s in 1976 (not his best nor his worst offensive year, which is why I picked it). Kong thus had 44% more AB’s than Duda, so let’s boost Duda’s power #’s by 44% to make them comparable.
Duda has 23 doubles, 12 HRs, 38 RBIs, and 97 K’s in 2015. Boost them by 44% (except for K’s, which are based on total at bats), and it is:
· Duda: 33 doubles, 17 homers, 54 RBIs, 128 K’s
· Dave: 14 doubles, 37 homers, 86 RBIs, 143 K’s
Many differing conclusions can be drawn, depending on one’s perspective. My conclusions start with Kong, and what I remember of him: he did not give a rat’s rump about his strikeouts, or worry about his batting average, or what fans thought of his approach. He was the ultimate “swing away” slugger. He was swinging all out for the fences at all times. He never had a lot of 2Bs; he swung for the fences. If he failed, he thought, so what?
I think Duda, on the other hand, listens to others too much. He has similar power to Kong (“power supreme” per Terry Collins), perhaps not quite as much as Kong, who hit some truly gargantuan bombs in his day, but similar. Clearly Duda walks more, and in my view (and others, based on what I read) is too tentative early in counts.
Kong was anything but tentative or patient – his goal was to launch many lunar modules.
As seen above, Kingman’s RBI rate far exceeds that of Duda’s. It was not just a fluke year – Kong averaged 108 RBIs for every 600 AB’s in his career. Duda? 87 every 600 official at bats, and remember that Duda’s higher walk rate would mean he went to the plate far more frequently than Kong to get to those 600 official at bats, so the disparity of RBIs per plate appearance is greater than 108 vs. 87.
I believe the RBI disparity is largely due to Kong’s all-out-abandon in wanting to hit homers. Homers drive in runs 100% of the time – singles, doubles, and walks do not.
I also believe (in fairness to Duda) that overall pitching is tougher now than in Kingman’s day…more hard throwers, more K’s, so Dave had that advantage. Also shifts hurt Duda more, but shifts don’t stop homers.
My conclusion is that Lucas should tell all his advisors to chill, and he should go out and imitate Kong. Swing more, swing earlier in counts, swing with more abandon, go all out for homers, see what happens. Forget trying to be a complete hitter – and try to be a feared home run hitter instead. Really TRY to hit 35 to 50 homers a season, Lucas.
Kong, in my opinion, was two injuries away from being viewed very differently by many as to his legacy: in 1976, as a Met, he was on a homer tear (I seem ot recall he hit 32 in the first 94 games) but then got hurt and ended up with 37 in 123 games, only 4 less than their all time record despite missing 39 games that year.
And in 1979 with the Cubs, he had 40 homers in his first 120 games, a Roger Maris pace, and got hurt and missed 17 games, ending up with 48. If healthy all of both of those years, he’d have been in the 50 to 60 range both those years – putting him in a pantheon of elite sluggers. Other years where he hit 35 or more, he was well below 162 games, so he could have had several years with 40+ homers rather than just one.
Anyway, what do you think? Should Duda adopt a Kingman mindset and try to hit 40-50 homers a year, and see if it outweighs his current mediocre performance?
I say he should.