Mets360 projection review: Lucas Duda

Lucas DudaWe are looking back at preseason projections we made and today we examine Opening Day left fielder Lucas Duda.  Take a few moments to see the original piece we did. Our group projection was for the following line:

PA – 505

AVG – .255

OBP – .340

SLG – .425

HR – 20

RBI – 73

Swing% – 41.5

Perhaps no player on the Mets gets criticized as much for being too passive as Duda.  In 2012, he had a 39.3 Swing% and as a group we expected him to swing the bat a little bit more in 2013.  Let’s see how this and the other projections went for us:

PA – 384

Best – Hangley (430)

Worst – Vasile (600)

AVG – .223

Best – Walendin (.222)

Worst – Stack (.287)

OBP – .352

Best – Gray (.350)

Worst – Hangley (.301)

SLG – .415

Best – Koehler, Rogers (.410)

Worst – Rogan (.490)

HR – 15

Best – Koehler, Parker (15)

Worst – Joura (28)

RBIs – 33

Best – Hangley, Walendin (52)

Worst – Joura (95)

Swing% – 38.5

Best – Omalley – 38.6

Worst – Hangley 49.2

Duda finished the year with a .767 OPS and Spencer Manners was almost spot on with a .765 projection.  However, if we look at the total of the projection, Mike Koehler did the best job on this one.  Here was his full set:

300 PA, .250 AVG, .340 OBP, .410 SLG, 15 HR, 55 RBIs, 41.0 Swing%

Among the big boys, Steamer had the best projection for Duda, although all of them were pretty similar.

There were two big issues with Duda this year.  The first was the horribly-timed injury and the second was his dismal production with Runners in Scoring Position.  The latter issue has been discussed all season long so there’s no need to go into it here.  But let’s look at the injury.

If you recall, the Mets finally sent Ike Davis to the minors the second week in June.  However, the braintrust thought it would be a good idea to give Jordany Valdespin a week of regular playing time and they did so at second base, sliding Daniel Murphy to first base.  After that brief trial was a predictable disaster, they finally did the right thing by moving Duda from left field to first base and putting Murphy back at second.

Duda played five games at his normal position, had a .979 OPS in this tiny sample and then came down with an intercostal strain.  By the time he recovered, Davis was already back in the majors and Duda was optioned to the minors. Duda did make it back to Queens and with Davis’ injury he did get to play first base again, although he did not particularly distinguish himself offensively.

After returning from the minors, Duda put up a .707 OPS in 115 PA, hurt by a .255 BABIP.  The only way Duda really helped himself in this mini audition was to show that he was not a disaster defensively at first base.  In 280 innings at his preferred position, Duda put up a 0.6 UZR.  Extended over a full season, that’s a 3.1 UZR/150.  Compare that to his work this year in left field this year, which worked out to a (-29.6) UZR/150.

Now we have to prepare for an offseason of doubt when it comes to Duda.  Many feel he does not offer the HR power that they would prefer from a starting first baseman.  However, there’s no reason to think he would not produce power numbers that would fit in nicely with others at his position if he simply had enough playing time.

Duda hit 15 HR in 384 PA in 2013, an average of one tater every 25.6 trips to the plate.  This is a case where the lower the number, the better.  Mark Trumbo had an average of 1 HR every 19.9 PA.  But check out these other National League prominent starting first basemen and their HR/PA numbers: Freddie Freeman (27.3), Prince Fielder (28.5), Joey Votto (30.3).

If Duda had Fielder’s 712 PA this year, he would have produced 28 HR in 2013.

So, with a cost-controlled Duda, they could get acceptable power for the position, better than average defense and plus BB%.  It comes down to if Duda can put up a better AVG and do better with RISP.  Many feel he’s a lost cause in both of those categories.  Others know that there’s low year-to-year correlation with those numbers compared to other categories.

It will be interesting to see how Sandy Alderson approaches first base this offseason.

16 comments for “Mets360 projection review: Lucas Duda

  1. October 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

    With 700 plate appearances Duda will only strike out 250 times. At least he gets to see a lot of pitches and his confidence is surely in abundance. So Brian if he doesn’t put the ball in play how do you expect him to increase his R.B.I. totals? I don’t believe you can project his numbers because Citifield is not a home run hitters ball park.

    • October 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

      The average NL player hits a solo HR 61% of the time in 2013. Duda’s solo HR% was 87% so I’m expecting he will hit more homers with runners on base. Also, I expect his BABIP with RISP will be better than .204 next season.

  2. October 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Does that mean Ike Davis is gone next season? Otherwise I don’t see how Duda can get that many at-bats.

    • October 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

      No one knows how the Mets will handle Davis and Duda right now. Either one could be the starting first baseman. Either one could be traded. There’s even a remote possibility that Davis gets non-tendered.

  3. Sean Flattery
    October 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

    He’s an enigma to me. In 2011, he looked on the verge of stardom. He was a patient, line drive hitter with crazy power. The past 2 seasons he’s looked like a shell of that guy. I don’t know what to make of him still.

  4. steevy
    October 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Lucas had a terrible year against left handing pitching.Accounts for most of his troubles.

  5. NormE
    October 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Pinning your hopes on Duda/Davis is like expecting the US Congress to become an efficient part of our government. Ain’t gonna happen, though D/D have a better chance.

  6. Jerry Grote
    October 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    If the Mets drop Duda – and ESPECIALLY if its over something as idiotic as hitting with men on base or RBI totals – they will surely regret it.

    On any other team, Lucas Duda will produce a WAR at 3 to 4, and he’ll do it for next to nothing.

    Focus on his long term trends – hitting well while he’s at 1B, a great OBP for a power hitter – and ignore the short term “noise” like whether he hit well when he returned or stupid ass counting stats like RBIs.

  7. Metsense
    October 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Since the winter of 2011 the Mets have had a choice, either Duda or Davis at first base. The front office failed to make the decision and it has made the team worse. Indecisiveness by Alderson is a strike against Sandy. Now we are in the winter of 2013 and I offer the same arguement.2013
    NL Avg: 21 HR, 341/427/768
    Duda 2013:15 Hr, 352/415/767 Duda Career: 342/424/768
    Looks like an average NL first baseman to me. Cheap also.
    The Mets have many gaping holes on this team where the offensive position player is 80-90 OPS points below average.
    RF, CF, LF, SS, C and Davis at 1B. No wonder they win only 74 games. Keep Duda, invest the $4m they are paying Davis and put together a team.

  8. October 6, 2013 at 1:03 am

    To:Jerry Grote. Duda is better suited for an American League team where he can DH and play an occasional first base like Mike Napoli. If the Mets are unable to sign a quality free agent outfielder package Duda, Murphy and(you fill it in) for Cargo or Tulowitzki.

    • October 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

      I hear people say this and it makes zero sense to me.

      Duda’s not the one who lost a game for the Mets because he watched a fair ball go by and refused to field it – Ike Davis did that.

      We got to see Duda play on a regular basis and he looked fine at the position. His defensive numbers were terrible in the outfield but they were miles better at first base. He looked good making scoops on throws.

      He’ll never flip over a rail to make a catch but you know what — Davis hasn’t done that since 2010.

      There are reasons to prefer the Mets look for a new first baseman this winter. But anyone who thinks that one of those reasons is because Duda cannot handle the position defensively as a full-time player is just wrong.

    • Jerry Grote
      October 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Pretty much have to agree with Brian here. Duda doesn’t add in the field, but he doesn’t subtract either – presuming its first we are talking about. And he’s probably just a hair better than Satin.

      I would, in fact, argue the opposite … that he’s better suited player to the NL than the AL. Players with extreme splits have more usefulness for teams looking to do double splits. Granted, its not much, but it does exist.

      • Jerry Grote
        October 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        {double switch not splits}

  9. October 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I just tink the Mets can do better at first base. Duda playing left field doesn’t even count in my book since he was asked to play out of his natural position. If the Mets are to continue rebuilding then they will probably keep both. Amazing how much the Harvey injury changes the complexity of the situation. Instead of thinking wild card we have already abandoned the position for continued rebuilding thus I don’t see the Mets being overtly aggressive this off season.

  10. Eric Budowsky
    October 2, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Well…..I guess you were all wrong for 2014! Lucas Duda appears to be on the verge of stardom. What the Mets need now is a reliable shortstop and a power hitting outfielder and they can contend for quite a few years!

    • October 2, 2014 at 8:46 am

      If you check the date, you’ll see this was for 2013

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