Lucas Duda burst onto the scene in 2011 with a stellar offensive season. “The Dude” finished his rookie season with a .292 batting average, .370 OBP and slugged .482 with an OPS of .852. After a couple of disappointing seasons, it seems as if Duda has finally come into his own. His 27 HRs currently rank 12th in all of baseball and 3rd in the NL, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton (36) and Anthony Rizzo (30).
What’s even more impressive is that he’s done his damage playing in one of the most difficult home conditions in the league. When the big man connects with the baseball, he hits no-doubters. 23 of his 27 home runs have gone 375 ft or more, and 17 of them have traveled at least 400 ft.
After starting the 2014 campaign splitting time at first base with Ike Davis and Josh Satin, Duda has averaged a HR every 16.5 at bats to date, and he’s been getting pitched around for more than a month now.
To put that in perspective, the great Giancarlo Stanton is averaging a HR every 14.6 AB, Rizzo 16.2 AB and Justin Upton is at 19.1. Duda also ranks 7th in the NL in RBI with 80 and 8th in walks.
Since the All Star break, only three players have more long balls than Duda’s 13. Chris Carter (17), Stanton (15) and Jose Bautista (14). Those three batters all have one thing in common. They all bat from the right side. Duda has been the best left handed power hitter of all players since the break and only David Ortiz and Rizzo have more HRs from the left side on the year. Whether we realize it or not, we have an elite left-handed power bat manning 1B for us this year.
Maybe more surprisingly than his breakout at the plate, Duda has been, at the very least, solid defensively at 1B this season. He ranks 4th in double plays turned by a first baseman and ranks 4th in the NL in fielding percentage at the position. He’s also saved countless throwing errors for his infielders this season with his ability to pick errant throws.
Baseball-Reference currently has Duda at 3.5 WAR which is good for 6th, behind Jose Abreu, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Rizzo. That’s some pretty elite company. Abreu, Miggy and Pujols also have the luxury of DHing from time to time.
Duda is playing his age 28 season in 2014 and he looks very comfortable now that he’s settled in defensively. He is still under team control for three more years as a Super 2 player through his age 29-31 seasons. It certainly looks like we have the cleanup hitter we’ve been clamoring for. The only chink in his armor at this point is his inability to hit LHP. If he improves those numbers and takes another step forward now that he’s playing everyday, the sky is the limit for Duda.