Based on merit, the following headline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I’ll give you that. Since his recall from Buffalo, Lucas Duda is only batting a measly .225 with one home run and seven RBI’s. Those are hardly the numbers that scream more playing time.
There is no other way to slice it: Duda’s 2012 season has been a major disappointment. For a guy that finished the 2011 season on fire and began this season amid much fanfare, Duda has failed to deliver on the promise that he showed last year.
In the second half of the 2011 season, Duda hit .322 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI’s in 205 at-bats and there was every reason to think that he would grow on that finish. Thus far in 350 at-bats this year, Duda is sporting a not-so-impressive .243/.332/.389 slash line.
However, for the Mets to truly know what they have in Duda, they need to start playing him on a regular basis and even against lefties. Just why in the hell should Jason Bay get more playing time at this juncture of the season? And now comes word that Terry Collins will be using Duda more at first base (like he did in Wednesday’s game) to see what he can do there while not being such a liability in the outfield.
Obviously all this jockeying with Duda is for perhaps a possible trade down the line. The Mets would ideally love to move either Duda, Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy (all players could conceivably play first base) while upgrading the outfield. In this scenario, the Mets could also include a pitcher (say Jon Niese, Colin McHugh, etc.) to sweeten the pot.
Hence, it is very important that Duda get as much playing time as possible down the stretch to either enhance his chances for success with the Mets in 2013 or use this time as a way to showcase himself for a trade.
I still think there is upside in Duda’s game. The guy clearly has power, but sometimes Duda is too passive while not being aggressive at the plate. You also have to realize that Duda is still young and has only 735 major league at-bats to his credit.
I think the jury is still out on Duda. That’s why playing him more in September is both vital for the personal growth of Duda and beneficial for the Mets in knowing what they really have in the young, hulking hitter.
Maybe Duda is not part of the future, but at least use this last month (which has now been rendered meaningless outside of R.A. Dickey’s starts) to know what you have in him before you start making plans for 2013.
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