The ballad of Lucas Duda

Lucas DudaUsually I wait a while before I do this, but, what the heck:

Player A career: .249/.340/.446, .197 ISO, 12.1 BB%, 18.4 K%, .344 wOBA, 117 wRC+

Player B career: .246/.342/.424, .178 ISO, 11.3 BB%, 23.5 K%, .336 wOBA, 115 wRC+

Player A is ex-Met Howard Johnson, Player B, as the title of this article indicates, is Lucas Duda.

Johnson, of course, is thought of as one of the best players on the great Mets teams of the mid-to-late 80s, and Duda is thought of by some as a good-for-nothing on some really bad teams.

Some of you might be thinking that this comparison might not be the best because Johnson’s numbers are dragged down by a few bad years at the end of his career.  Fine.  Let’s look at just their age 27 seasons, which for Johnson means 1988, and Duda means 2013.

Johnson 1988: .230/.343/.422, .192 ISO, 14.5 BB%, 17.5 K%, .330 wOBA, 118 wRC+

Duda 2013: .223/.352/.415, .192 ISO, 14.3 BB%, 26.6 K%, .340 wOBA, 120 wRC+

Well I’ll be damned if Duda isn’t just Johnson with more strikeouts and a higher OBP.  But then again, the league struck out 29.2 percent more often in 2013 than in 1988, and walked 11.3 percent less.

You can probably blame a good portion of the negativity about Duda to his strikeout totals.  While the stigma of the strikeout is fading among players and front office types, fans still stigmatize the strikeout.

It could also be because of Duda’s apparent lack of athleticism.  Johnson could steal bases and play reasonable defense in his younger days, the latter being something Duda won’t do unless he’s moved to full time to first base.

And here lies the main issues with Duda – he can’t seem to find any kind of consistent playing time, and when he does, it’s not at his natural position of first base.

By moving Duda full time to first base (and presumably trading Davis to either Pittsburgh or Milwaukee), he may finally blossom into a player who give the Mets two or three wins.  While that’s nothing to write home about, the Mets haven’t gotten that level of production form a first baseman since Ike Davis’ rookie season in 2010.

Quite frankly, he would probably be at that level already if the team had committed to putting him at first base.  He has never posted a UZR/150 better than -28.4 at his primary position, which has always been left or right field.  At first base, Duda has been a scratch defender.

Over the last three years, Duda’s dWAR numbers are as follows: -1.8, -2.2, -2.1.  That Duda has been able to break the 0 fWAR plane in two of the last three years is a testament to how good of a hitter he really is.  Give Davis the same defensive numbers and he doesn’t even come close to breaking replacement level.

The idea that some people would rather see Davis in the lineup every day instead of Duda because he hit 32 home runs in 2011 is beyond foolish.

Duda gets on base more, and depending on which one of the four versions of Davis happens to be playing at that point, hits for roughly the same amount of power, too.  Not to mention that he’s the best leadoff option on the team right now, and by that, I mean, the only one that makes sense.[1]

The Mets should be making roster decisions based off of who can help the team the most, and at first base, Duda helps the team far more than Davis.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs.  Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.


[1] Yes, I just opened up that can of worms.

19 comments for “The ballad of Lucas Duda

  1. December 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Adam Dunn says they should appreciate him more because every time he strikes out it means he’s not hitting into a double play. I wonder if Duda feels the same?

  2. Reese
    December 23, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Wilmer Flores would help the team more than either of them, but in CollinsWorld he’s way too young to give an opportunity as long as there are mediocre, older players who have not yet played themselves out of baseball e.g. Rick Ankiel.

  3. Jerry Grote
    December 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    [1]Not with me. But then again, I think the idea of punting or kicking for a PAT is stupid in football.

    I wonder how many teams have used high OBP, low SB, slow-ish guys to hit leadoff. I bet its not many.

    • December 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      The NL pennant winning Cardinals did just that in 2013, when they batted Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot. He had a .392 OBP and only stole 3 bases. And he scored 126 runs, which is more than speedster Jose Reyes has ever scored in a season.

      • Jerry Grote
        December 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm
        • December 23, 2013 at 3:52 pm

          Thanks for the link.

          The story’s a couple of years old but a good read. He should have included Rick Monday. It doesn’t fit the linked story, but for high OBP/low SB guys you can also look at Pete Rose and Wade Boggs. Craig Biggo and Lou Whitaker. Even Joey Cora and David DeJesus.

  4. Metsense
    December 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Duda had the better 2013 and they both have similar career numbers, but Duda was more consistent over his career. Duda should be supplemented with Satin as part of a platoon. Duda, if given the playing time would post at least average numbers for a first baseman and defensively over his career he is a -1.3 UZR at 1B. Duda also posted his numbers under adverse conditions, at a position that he was horrible at and possibly inhibited his offensive production.
    The following article projects production for a Duda/Satin platoon.
    “assuming Duda has 525 plate appearances to Satin’s 175, we get a line of .250/.371/.448, with an OPS of .819. The pair would combine for 146 hits (including 39 doubles and 25 home runs) and 99 walks. This production would make for a well above-average offensive first baseman, tied with Prince Fielder for 11th best OPS among qualified first basemen in 2013.”
    Jerry Grote, enjoyed the link. I’m also intrigued at Duda batting leadoff. I don’t think that is going to happen with TC as manager because I read TC still believes it is Davis’ position.

  5. NormE
    December 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Duda as a lead-off batter is really thinking in a non-traditional way. I would think that with regular playing time his power numbers would provide more value in the middle of the line-up. The problem is that the Mets really do not have a good lead-off hitter, at least in the traditional sense. TC would probably opt for Tejada or EYJ, if he’s in the line-up. Other options include Murphy, CYoung and Lagares/MDD. All have their faults. How about D’Arnaud?

  6. Ed Bouchee
    December 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Lucas Duda needs to be a lot more aggresive at the plate and stop looking for walks. I do not believe he is the answer at 1B. I would prefer to move Murphy to 1st and give Young a shot at 2B. Lineup: 2B Young
    SS Tejada?
    3B Wright
    LF Grandersen
    1B Murphy
    RF Young
    CF Lagares
    C D’Anauad
    Really!!!! When does the football season begin?

  7. Jim OMalley
    December 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    So if Duda striking out helps the team, does Duda walking hurt the team because he clogs the base paths? I can still see Davis blossoming as soon as he is dealt.

  8. Jerry Grote
    December 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    @Joe …

    You realize, of course, that Ike Davis’ projected age 27 season – next year – is a mirror image of what you have above for Duda (.210 ISO, .340 wOBC, 120 wRC+).

    How do you rationalize,”Duda helps the team more than Davis” … unless you are building in some metrics for Duda in the field that we haven’t truly had the chance to see over a full year?

    • Joe Vasile
      December 27, 2013 at 1:29 am

      I’d be very wary of projections for Davis, you know as well as I have that Davis has been all over the place.

  9. Don Jon
    December 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Post deleted for violating Comment Policy.

  10. Eraff
    December 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

    All of these stats…why bother watching a guy play? I probably see more potential in Duda than most do— however, there is No statistical line that could tell me he had a decent season in 2012 because I Watched Him Play!!!

    The questions about speed, and stolen bases… quick input—— Pete Rose was the greatest baserunner I ever saw!!! There is not a stat that captures this. He was certainly not “fast’. Rusty Staub was slow…he was an excellent baserunner. Lucas Duda is incredibly slow…and he’s an awful baserunner. High obp can provide some good tablesetter possibilities. Slow and bad baserunners cost you outs and runs.

  11. Eraff
    December 24, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I meant to refer to Duda’s 2013 Season….

  12. Patrick Albanesius
    December 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Eraff makes a good point, and is one of the reasons numbers-only research is problematic. No offense to Duda, but he’s not what I would consider a smart baseball player. Matt Carpenter scored 126 runs because he has phenomenal baseball instincts. Duda on the other hand always appears to be reacting, which is often seen when guys aren’t aggressive at the plate and on the bases. Maybe a full-time position will give him the confidence to play more aggressive. The only certain thing Duda brings is a high OBP. Is that enough?

  13. Nebba
    December 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Watching Duda in 2013 I’d go so far as to argue, the fact that he was often looking for walks with runners on in the cleanup spot taints, rather than highlights, his decent OBP. Leave the RBI opportunity to….who? It was infuriating. I agree with Eraff also, he’s got potential, but those numbers are very deceiving.

  14. Christian
    December 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Haha, if Ike Davis hit 32 homeruns in 2011, I think all of us would be happy to pay him 35 million a year for 10 more years. 😉

  15. eraff
    December 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Duda’s hitting decisions do not appear to exist outside of a “Good Pitch/Bad Pitch” context—game situation, “count” do not appear to have much importance. He does not seem to match the approach to the in-game or “in at bat” situation.

    The comment that a guy is “not a smart player”, or that a player is passive is usually a matter of Over-thinking, rather than Not Thinking enough. Most players would do better to absorb and process the game situation versus dealing with specific skills and approaches while they’re playing. In-game it’s better to Just Play The Game (that means being in the game and situation), versus trying to figure out how to see better pitches, etc., etc, etc.

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