Next up in our projection series is Lucas Duda. When it comes to the Mets’ offense, Duda is the wild card. The team figures to get something from David Wright and something from Ike Davis, perhaps a combined 50 HR and 170 RBIs. But will Duda make it a trio of productive hitters for the club or will it be more forgettable performance like he delivered in 2012? It wouldn’t surprise me if those guys combined for 250 RBIs. It also wouldn’t shock me if it was under 225, either.
Here’s what we think Duda will do in 2013:
Under batting coach Dave Hudgens, the Mets preached patience with their hitters last year, a lesson Duda took to heart. He swung at just 39.3 percent of the pitches he saw, the second-lowest mark on the club among those with at least 200 PA. This year Hudgens is working with Duda to carry over the same approach from batting practice to the game. The concern was that Duda was too busy and had too much movement during games.
A snarky reply might be that Duda was so impatient from taking pitches that he got too hyper when one came his way. Hopefully he can find the right balance of waiting for his pitch and attacking said pitch with the proper swing fundamentals. Duda had a 137 OPS+ in 347 PA in 2011 and it would be wonderful if he would deliver that performance again this season.
Here’s what the group thinks Duda will do in 2013:
It should be pointed out that whatever contributions Duda makes on offense could be completely negated by what he does on defense. Last year he had a (-16) Defensive Runs Saved in 670 innings, a total so amazingly poor it’s hard to really comprehend in all its raging ugliness.
Many in the fan base crucify Daniel Murphy for his poor fielding, yet Murphy had a (-11) DRS in an additional 457 innings. If we use UZR instead of DRS and extrapolate to 150 games, Duda was more than three times worse than Murphy last year on defense. Murphy posted a (-11.7) UZR/150 while Duda’s mark was (-38.6).
The Mets are moving Duda to left field this year and hopefully the switch to the other side of the diamond will help improve his numbers from mortifying to just plain bad. Regardless, the Mets will live with his defensive issues if he posts a 137 OPS+. But a repeat of his 2012 98 OPS+ makes that kind of defense completely intolerable.
Finally, let’s close with a table comparing the Mets360 numbers to those of the projection systems available from FanGraphs:
The James projection has a little better AVG and SLG but basically all the systems essentially agree with our group. They all see a slight rebound from his 2012 numbers but nowhere close to the production that he displayed in 2011.
Knowing all this, it’s hard for a non-biased person to look at my predicted numbers for Duda and do anything besides laugh. That’s okay – send all the scorn you want my way. However, remember who was driving the Duda bus here in Spring Training when he goes off during the regular season.
For the opposite point of view, we have Mr. Hangley, who said of Duda, “I’m afraid he’s Kevin Maas.” Ouch. For those of you too young to remember, Maas was a one-time Yankees prospect who came up in 1990 and hit 21 HR in 254 ABs and had everyone convinced he was a future HR champ. He followed up with 23 HR in 1991 (in 500 ABs) and proceeded to hit just 21 more HR in his major league career, which ended in 1995.
Check back Thursday for our next entry in the projection series.