Former Brooklyn Cyclone Lucas Duda has been with the Mets for exactly two weeks now. Through his first 33 at-bats, he has only one hit: an RBI double 12 days ago against the Cubs.
His performance thus far begs the question: Is Duda a dud?
After watching him play rather than just looking at the stats, Duda certainly has a level of talent. He has a short, compact swing and has the build of a power hitter. Despite his .030 BA, he has hit some balls extremely hard but has had no luck in finding a hole for a hit.
Defensively, Duda has been quite a surprise in left field. A first baseman by trade, Duda has played more in left field the past two years than at first. It seemed as though he made a terrific play every time the ball was hit out there, at least early on.
Before his recall, Duda put up some impressive minor league numbers. In 115 games between Binghamton and Buffalo, he hit .304 with 23 HR, 40 doubles, and 87 RBI.
He has had some tough luck in the early going, so it is unfair to judge his performance. Plus this is the first major league action of his career.
So to answer the above question, I would have to say Duda is far from a dud. However, Duda will have a tough road to finding regular playing time with the Mets next season.
Ike Davis has cemented himself at first base for next year (and hopefully beyond). He has a chance to break the Mets’ record for RBI as a rookie, currently 74 by Darryl Strawberry in 1983. He has big-time power, and with a little more plate discipline, he can develop into one of the game’s bright young stars. His glove is also very solid at first.
So first base appears out of the question for Duda. What about left field?
Though it seems Jason Bay will likely miss the remainder of this season, the Mets hope that he can return healthy for the start of spring training. The team invested a large sum of money in Bay and desperately want to see their investment pay off for the next few years.
Assuming Bay is healthy, he will be the team’s left fielder next year.
The only other option would be right field, but that would only be remotely possible if the Mets trade Beltran and move Pagan back to center. Beltran has been swinging the bat well lately and hopefully will regain full strength by spring training. I admit I wanted the Mets to trade Beltran, but now I think he may fit well into the team’s future plans.
Plus Duda has only played parts of nine games in right throughout his minor league career. Doesn’t seem like a good fit, especially at the cavernous Citi Field.
There’s always the possibility of a bench role for Duda, but I’d rather see him get regular playing time in minors to further improve than only serve as a pinch hitter with the big club.
My guess is that Duda starts the year at AAA. What works in his favor is his flexibility. He can play first base and left field and is a lefty bat. He is also only 24 years old so the Mets can afford to patient with him.
He reminds me of Nick Evans a lot. A player who tears up the minors but struggles on the big stage. Granted, Duda is only experiencing his first cup of coffee in the bigs while Evans has had several go-arounds the last few seasons.
I hope Duda can find his stroke and close out these last two weeks similar to the way he hit at Buffalo. He’s a talented kid whose hard work will someday pay off at the big league level. Whether that is for the Mets or another club remains to be seen.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mancari
James (Jim) Mancari hails from Massapequa, NY. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA with degrees in History and Kinesiology. Jim currently is pursuing a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets' fans, Jim has plenty of hope. Jim also writes for the NJ Nets on this site. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He appreciates and respects additional opinions.