The left fielder’s .417 on-base percentage was 11th in the majors entering play Saturday and his .538 slugging percentage ranked in the top 30.
But his remarkable selectivity could also be detrimental on a team that relies on the slugger to drive in runs from the middle of the order.
In 24 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this season, Lucas Duda has walked 33.3 percent of the time, tied for the highest rate in the league. But he has just two hits, both singles, and two runs batted in. He has struck out twice. His slugging percentage in those circumstances is just .133, the 12th-worst in the majors with runners in scoring position.
“You don’t want to change a guy’s approach too much, but there’s certain times — his swing percentage on first pitch is like seven percent or something — I’d like to see him swing,” Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens said this week.
During one of the games in the Marlins series, SNY analyst Keith Hernandez sounded frustrated with Duda during one at-bat where he took a first pitch strike down the middle, and then a second fastball for another strike. “What the heck is he doing up there? What’s he waiting for? There’s a runner on second and he should be looking fastball and swinging – I don’t understand any of this.” Duda popped up on a changeup leaving Wright stranded at second.
Then in Wednesday’s win against the Marlins and right after a John Buck two-run double, Duda took a couple of fat ones before working out a walk when Ron Darling sarcastically said, “big walk.” The Mets barely hung on to win the game 7-6, but an extra insurance run would have been nice to have after a six-game losing streak going into the game.
Duda did hit a solo home run on Friday night when the Mets beat the Braves 7-5., but he has been very passive as a middle of the order hitter and the Mets have him batting 4th or 5th in the past week.
Manager Terry Collins hinted at that after the game. “He’s trying to be more selective, which is going to ultimately get him better pitches to hit,” Collins said. “Now, do damage.”