We 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.