So as you may have noticed, Lucas Duda started at first base for the Mets on Tuesday against lefthander Gio Gonzalez and went 0-for-3 before contributing a two-out RBI single once Gonzalez left the game. So what? Does that mean we give up trying to get the big guy on track against lefthanded pitching, the final step toward a successful evolution into an everyday first baseman?
“If you’re going to hit him in the middle of the lineup, he’s going to have to hit lefties,” the manager said last night. “You can’t have a hole there. You’re going to have David, who kills lefties, get on base and if there’s nobody behind him that can hit them, then it’s not going to help. If he’s going to be an everyday guy he’s got to somehow hit lefties. I don’t mean he’s got to hit .300 but he’s got to be a guy when he goes up there you know he’s going to have good at-bats.”
“He believes it’s a part of his job is to drive the ball. He thinks he’s got to pull it, which in our park is hard. The gaps are big. He’s a little bit more of a pull hitter than he was when he first got here.”
Long story short, Collins says that Duda is not an everyday first baseman and that he if he wants it he’ll need to earn that role and find a way to be competent.
The point from my perspective is that yes, Duda will need to do a better job against LHP, but that can’t happen unless he continues to see them and figure things out.
The rest of this season should be dedicated toward giving Duda the opportunity to evolve into a more complete hitter. It shouldn’t be that difficult for him to make that adjustment because there was a time when Duda hit southpaws very well.
Duda has already changed his approach against righthanders and it has paid huge dividends. He needs to do the same against lefty pitching, so lets give him the time to accomplish the feat.
It’s called player development, Terry.
There was not much to get excited about in last nights 5-1 loss to the Giants, but one thing that stuck out was watching Lucas Duda blast his 20th home run of the season, the sixth in his last nine games.
With the homer, Duda drove in a run for the seventh straight game, a career-high for the Mets first baseman who also matches David Wright for the longest such streak this season.
Among all NL first basemen, Duda ranks second with 20 home runs trailing only Anthony Rizzo who has 25. He also ranks third with an .872 OPS trailing only Rizzo (.909) and league leader Paul Goldschmidt (.938).
In June, I wrote that while the Mets missed out on Jose Abreu, Lucas Duda was a great consolation prize. I know that sounded like crazy talk at the time, but check this out:
Over the last 28 days:
Lucas Duda: 21 G – 7 HR – 18 RBI – 16 R – 10 BB – 16 K – 1.071 OPS
Jose Abreu: 21 G – 4 HR – 15 RBI – 12 R – 9 BB – 18 K – 1.192 OPS
Now sure, that’s a small sample size, but impressive nonetheless, right?
Let’s hope Duda’s development continues, but what he’s accomplished since the Mets jettisoned Ike Davis to Pittsburgh has been incredible to watch.
But here’s the problem…
If we want Lucas Duda to evolve into the everyday first baseman I strongly believe he can be, I’ll need Terry Collins to work with me on this and allow him to play against left-handed pitching for the rest of this season.
My hunch is that with a healthy diet of LHP, Duda can take that final step and give us something this team desperately needs. But of course that can’t happen until the manager wakes up and stops benching him against southpaws. Word is that he’ll be out of the lineup tomorrow with Madison Bumgarner on the mound.
Here’s to continued success from Lucas Duda who now has a real shot at a 30 home run season… Wow…