The following story is respectfully offered for your consideration. It concerns two people—Ike Davis and Lucas Duda —but they are from another galaxy and another time. They live quite simply in the Twilight Zone.
Okay so they’re not from another galaxy and another time. But after hearing Sandy Alderson’s comments on WFAN Monday, it’s quite clear that we are living in the Twilight Zone. In a nutshell, Alderson considers Davis to be a member of the Mets’ core while he considers Duda just a serviceable player. Let’s look at their stats heading into the 2013 season:
ID – 1,334 PA, 118 OPS+, 23.2 K%
LD – 898 PA, 112 OPS+, 22.2 K%
Davis had more playing time under his belt and a slight offensive advantage. He was also thought to have a considerable defensive advantage, although Davis had a poor year in the field in 2012 and Duda was the one sacrificing by playing out of position. Overall, Davis was probably a better defensive player, although the gap was not as pronounced as many believed.
Now, here are their 2013 stats:
ID – 207 PA, 42 OPS+, 31.9 K%
LD – 226 PA, 119 OPS+, 25.7 K%
Offensively, Davis has taken a huge step backwards while Duda has taken a slight step forward. For their careers, Duda now holds the lead in OPS+ — 113 to 108. Additionally, Duda is on pace to hit a career-high 28 HR. It’s a little confusing how the minor leaguer Davis can be considered a piece of the core while Duda is relegated to the afterthought bin.
And to make matters worse, the Mets remain averse to moving Davis to his natural position of first base. The primary reason to move Duda to first is that he’s a terrible defensive outfielder. Currently, he has a (-11.0) UZR, the second-worst rate among MLB outfielders. Over a full season, Duda projects to be three wins worse than an average outfielder.
In limited action at his natural position of first base – Duda has been a league-average fielder. By switching Duda to first base, the Mets could pick up three wins on defense alone. That’s staggering. And if they replace him with a good fielder in left, the difference could be even greater.
But it’s not a good reason for defense alone. When Duda has gotten the chance to play first base, he’s posted a .306/.378/.486 line. While it should be pointed out that this is a small sample – 165 PA – it makes sense on an intuitive level that being comfortable in the field would translate to being comfortable at the plate.
Instead, the Mets are contemplating moving Daniel Murphy from second base to first, leaving Duda in left field and opening up a regular spot for Jordany Valdespin. This is crazy on three different levels. The first level being keeping Duda in a spot he simply cannot play at an acceptable level. Second, moving Murphy, who has worked hard to be a good defender at second base this year. And third, jumping through hoops to get more playing time for Valdespin, who should have joined Davis in being demoted instead of getting this pseudo promotion.
Whether it’s from your children or the people who run your favorite team, you want to see good decisions being made. We accept that not all decisions are going to work out the way which we would prefer but it’s tough to take when you see a decision being a train wreck from a mile away. It’s not quite the same level as jamming a fork into an outlet – but leaving Duda in the outfield to move Murphy is a decision that looked bad when it was announced, will look bad in practice and will look bad in hindsight.
And it’s not going to win any fans for Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson, both of whom the fan base grows more and more upset with each day.