You know I’ve given Terry Collins a lot of flak over the years, I’ll be the first to admit that. But I’ve got to hand it to him this season, while he continues to annoy me with his in-game decisions, the way he’s handled his players and kept them motivated throughout some pretty difficult circumstances, certainly deserves some high praise.
Most of you know how Lucas Duda was mired in a slump that had lasted nearly two months. After posting a .918 OPS in April and a .948 OPS in May, Duda fell off the grid in June, posting an unsightly .576 OPS with just one home run while adding mostly cleanup for a Mets lineup whose offense had flatlined.
As the calendar turned to July there was still no end in sight as Duda continued to struggle, posting an even worse .524 OPS from July 1 through July 24 with 29 strikeouts in 69 at-bats. Brutal.
“Listen,” he told his struggling first baseman. “Either we’ve got to start producing some runs, or we’ve got to find somebody else.”
What would happen next, is nothing short of remarkable. Duda would go on a tear unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, rising even to historic levels.
Including his two homer night on Saturday, Duda is 9-for-24 with a double, eight home runs and 10 RBIs in the seven games since Collins told him to start hitting or face significantly reduced playing time.
On Saturday night, he was the undisputed star of the game, blasting his 19th and 20th home runs of the season, and then clobbering a clutch game-winning RBI double in the eight inning that would give the Mets a huge 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
“I always thought he was going to have a good second half,” Collins said after Saturday’s win. “But he’s taken it to heart. He’s a tremendous worker and wants to be good. He’s showing everybody what he can be.” (ESPN New York)
His eighth consecutive home runs in eight at-bats is a new franchise record, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last major league player to have eight straight hits resulting in home runs was Marcus Thames in 2008 with Detroit.
With his two home runs tonight, Duda is tied with Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado for the most home runs since the All-Star break with eight.
Amazingly, 17 of Duda’s 20 home runs this season have been hit at Citi Field, and for the season he is now has now has a .347 OBP and .481 SLG to go with his 20 home runs and 48 RBIs.
So thanks to Terry Collins basically lighting a fire under Duda’s ass, it looks like our big bopper has rediscovered his power stroke and has become the dangerous slugger we saw last season and for the first two months of this season.
Hey, whatever it takes, right? Just remember to tip your caps to Terry Collins for this one.