The first article I ever wrote for Mack Mets, a little over a year ago, was about Lucas Duda. At the time I had observed that Lucas was particularly poor when his at bats reach the 2 strike stage.
After I wrote the article, from June 2014 through the end of that season, Lucas hit extremely well; he was being more aggressive and not getting into as many counts where he ended up with two strikes on him, whether 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, or 3-2.
After his fine completion to the 2014 season, Lucas got off to an excellent start in 2015 and it appeared that Lucas was well on his way to becoming a star in the National League. Folks saying he should be the starter at 1B in the All Star game.
Unfortunately, June hit, followed by July, and Lucas in 32 games has hit .162 with a single home run and a feeble 9 RBIs in that timeframe.
So I decided to take another look at Lucas's 2015 statistics; much to my chagrin, I noted that the 2 strike problem had re-emerged. Apparently he wasn’t really listening after all.
Before you read the rest of this article, consider what you might think a hitter of Lucas's stature should be able to do when he his at bat ends, and he either makes an out or gets on base, with a count of 2-2 or with a count of 3-2. .200? .190?
Nope. As it turns out, in 2015, when the account gets to 2-2 or 3-2 and Lucas either makes out or get on base on that particular pitch, the results are far from pretty. Far worse than .190 or .200. Disastrous, actually.
In fact he is 7-68 in those 2-2 hitting count situations, which is .103 hitting.
That’s got to be a fluke. Surely he is much better on 3-2 counts.
Well, not exactly. When the at bat count gets to 3-2, Lucas has been to bat 52 such times this year - he's walked 21 times, but in the 31 other 3-2 count at bats, he is a ghastly 3-31 (.097).
So, when Lucas' at bats end on either 2-2 or 3-2 counts, he is hitting 10 for 99 (.101). Could any starting hitter in baseball be worse? Hard to imagine.
So what is the solution?
I think it is simple...Duda needs to be all-out more aggressive in 0 strike and 1 strike counts, to seriously reduce the percentage of at bats that end up reaching 2 strikes. Because 2 strike counts for Duda are lethal, to him and to the Mets. Lucas, don't work the count - swing at almost any early-in-the-count strikes. Remove "taking strikes" from your vocabulary.
I'd rather see him get swing happy, hit .210, and blast 40 homers.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is another answer. Anyone else have any suggestions for Lucas?