3 Up, 3 Down: Hollywood Hulk

duda unleashed

The Mets continued their West Coast road trip and stopped by Los Angeles for a 3 game set against the N.L. West leading Dodgers. NY dropped 2 of 3, but unlike previous series, there were great individual takeaways for players looking to lock up their positions for 2015 and beyond. Conversely, the veterans were showed up by their younger counterparts. Below is a recap of 3 stocks that went up and 3 that went down over the weekend.

3 Up

1. The Hulk, The Dude, The Big Lebowski. Lucas Duda has a lot of nicknames, but he’s collecting even more home runs this season. The 1st baseman hit .417 in the series with a whopping 1.166 slugging percentage. He reached his career high in single season home run totals with 26 (and counting), as well as having a career best 5 RBI game on Sunday. Duda was also a key part in the Mets triple play from Sunday, gunning down the over aggressive Yasiel Puig at home plate after finishing off a double play ball from second basemen Daniel Murphy. Among all 1st basemen in MLB, Lucas is 3rd in WAR with a score of 3.8. Among all MLB players, he is 2nd in slugging percentage against right handed pitching this season, pounding righties at a .580 clip. Lucas is doing an excellent job and has emerged as one of the premier sluggers in all of baseball.

2. Juan Lagares bounced back from a recent slump to turn in an excellent series. While not as slug happy as Duda, he hit at a .455 clip, including a home run, which helped him generate an OPS of .871. The offensive numbers are very respectable for arguably the top center fielder in the game. Lagares is 1st in MLB in DWAR among all qualified outfielders, by a long shot, with a score of 3.5. The next closest OF is Atlanta’s right fielder Jason Heyward with a DWAR mark of 3.1. At his position alone, Juan is second among all center fielders in the game for overall WAR (4.9- also leads the Mets), tied with Pirates all-star Andrew McCutchen and trailing only Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout (6.0). That’s some great company for a guy who doesn’t even have 400 at bats in the majors this season. Lagares brings enough value with his glove that if he hits .275 for his career, he would be more than productive to lock up long term. There’s more power to come once his plate discipline improves, as he gains more patience and slightly better pitch recognition, he could be expected to put out 10-15 home runs with great gap-to-gap doubles power at Citi Field. Quick thought, if David Wright is injured and out, put Juan in the 2 hole. On the year, Juan has a triple slash line of .333/.385/.968 as the #2 hitter.

3. Travis d’Arnaud had a solid series, hitting .308 with a solo home run, contributing his one and only RBI for the series. His overall performance is important because it reinforces the potential that’s been realized since returning from his demotion to AAA Las Vegas in June. In 47 games since his return on June 24th, Travis has the following numbers: Batting Average (.263), SLG (.486), OPS (.794), 2B (10), HR (9). Over the course of a 162 game season, this projects d’Arnaud at 34 doubles, 31 home runs and 79 RBI’s. Compared to last season’s total among all catchers in MLB, that puts him 5th in doubles, 1st in home runs and 2nd in RBI’s- tied with Yadier Molina. Travis is tied for 1st in MLB for HR’s among catchers in the month of August with 5.

3 Down

1. David Wright finally broke down and left Sunday’s game with what the team described as muscle spasms in the right side of his neck. Terry Collins insisted that The Captain was not injured prior to yesterday’s start, but he needs to be shut down for the remainder of the year if he goes to the disabled list for any reason. The team is keeping him day-to-day at the moment, but his sore left shoulder along with other nagging injuries are undoubtedly contributing to his poor performance dating back to June and it’s not getting better in the short term, nor helping in the long term. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo noted that Wright has gone his last 62 plate appearances without an extra base hit, batting 0.95 in his last 6 games. I hope the Mets realize that although he’s not as outspoken as the Matt Harvey types, Wright is also a warrior and will not always do what’s best for his body by playing through injuries. That’s admirable when the playoffs are on the line, but get healthy, we need the old David for 2015.

2. As if Wright’s injury wasn’t enough of a blow to the offense, Daniel Murphy is also listed as day-to-day after leaving the ninth inning with a cramp in his right calf. Within a span of two hours, the Mets lost 2 of their 3 veteran position players and Murphy’s status is even less predictable as this is his first time experiencing an injury of this nature. When asked about his return, he said, “I really can’t tell you how it’s going to feel until we get to Tuesday”.

3. This rubbed me the wrong way, so I’m taking liberties with the 3rd down and calling out Terry Collins for comparing Lucas Duda to Ike Davis after the former churned out a 2 home run performance in a 11-3 victory over the Dodgers. In the post-game interview, Collins stated that he had seen another Mets basemen have the type of second half that Lucas is having in former incumbent Ike Davis. Why make that comparison? Davis is a forgotten topic for most fans, mainly due to Lucas Duda’s incredible performance as the starting first base since June 1st (Terry- that’s more than 1 half) . His production from that date over the course of a full season would put Duda at 42 home runs and 115 RBI. Also, his glove has improved vastly (minus a boneheaded foul ball botch near the 1st base line this series, like Keith Hernandez always says Dude…TWO HANDS!). I thought Bobby Ojeda responded perfectly in his SNY post game recap saying, “The manager would do well to stop using that comparison and just let Lucas Duda shine on his own”. Agreed.