Lucas Duda could use a platoon partner

Lucas DudaNow in his fourth full-season spent on a major league roster, and the first in which he’s been afforded adequate playing time, Lucas Duda is blossoming right before our very eyes.

Is he a star? No.  But is he developing into a good first baseman? Yes.

After getting off to a slow start, he hit his stride in June, raising his season hitting line to .252/.344/.473 to go along with 13 home runs, just two shy of his career high.

Duda’s wOBA stands at .358, why ties him with Joey Votto and Michael Morse for 12th among MLB first basemen, and puts him firmly ahead of Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis, Joe Mauer, and Ryan Howard.

That is better production than most people would’ve expected out of the Mets 7th-round pick in 2007, even his most ardent supporters.  But the Mets could be getting more out of first base if they leveraged the talent they have better.

Against right-handed pitching, Duda has mashed this year, hitting .271/.361/.524 with 12 homeruns and a .387 wOBA, but against lefties, he is hitting an anemic .156/.269/.222 with only one homer and a putrid .237 wOBA.

Earlier in the year, the Mets attempted to have Josh Satin fill the right-handed half of the platoon with Duda and Ike Davis, but he floundered in that role, and the Mets are yet to fill that hole.  Which is where Eric Campbell comes into play.

Campbell played very well in his brief stint filling in for David Wright during his injury, and has earned himself a spot on the roster, and more playing time.  A way to reward Campbell for his good play would be to have him serve as the platoon-mate for Duda.

On the season, Campbell is hitting .359/.395/.513 against southpaws, albeit in a very small sample size in which he has an unsustainable .464 BABIP.

But even if we can expect Campbell to regress to his ZiPS projection of .290/.355/.405 by season’s end, that production, coupled with what Duda has been achieving, could give the Mets a nifty combination at first base for around $2 million.  Using Lewie Pollis’ math, the production that this platoon could feasibly result in would cost over $19 million on the free agent market.

If Campbell flops, Wilmer Flores could step in and be a quick option to fill out the platoon. especially since he has been raking in Las Vegas since his demotion. If the team doesn’t want to go that route, Satin could get a second chance to try and prove himself, after all, he was good at the plate 2013.

Duda is not a perfect player, nobody has ever suggested otherwise.  But he has developed into a credible major leaguer who can get by on his own. However, if he were to move into a strict platoon role, he could thrive much in the same way that Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Derek Norris and John Jaso have thrived in platoon situations in Oakland over the past three seasons.

So while we should all be happy for Duda’s progress, it could be even better for the team to go to a platoon and leverage his – and his platoon mate’s – abilities to get production that exceeds the sum of the individual parts.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs.

14 comments for “Lucas Duda could use a platoon partner

  1. Jerry Grote
    July 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

    I’d only say this – that you might be wasting Eric Campbell on the platoon. Keep him in LF, where I think he profiles as a .280/.335/.440 guy that just doesn’t have the 20 HR thump you might prefer.

    He’s starting to show he can hit RHP a little bit and I’d like to see him get 200 ABs between now and October; get another 80 ABs to Kirk.

    If you need a platoon partner, make sure Josh Satin isn’t the guy and have Flores be your fall back position.

    • Tommy2cat
      July 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

      I’m in favor of platoons in the right context – Davey Johnson platooned his players masterfully. Wally/Teufel, Mookie/Lenny, etc… He stacked his line-up L/R/L/R/L/R…

      Here’s my suggestions:

      1. Cut Chris Young and move Eric Campbell to LF for full-time duty.
      2. Promote Andrew Brown & have him platoon with Duda – the production out of first base would skyrocket. Brown can play first base.
      3. Use an OF rotation involving Campbell, Kirk, Lagares & Granderson. Brown can always jump in when needed. No one gets run down or rusty.
      4. Use Abreu as a professional bat off the bench with an occasional spot start to keep his bat warm.

      I really don’t know what to do with EY Jr. He’s a really likable guy and outstanding base runner. His glove isn’t hurting us in left field. But would you really want him at the plate at a crucial time in the game? I thought so lol

      He needs to go to “finishing school” lol. IDK – polish his small-ball game & bunt a lot. Shorten his swing to make better contact & use his speed. Stuff like that.

      Wilmer is beginning to remind me of Nick Evans lmao. If push came to shove – I’d probably trade Wilmer, Abreu + prospect for someone of value – it would have to be a need-fitter – someone like Nick Franklin plus a prospect.

      Oh – and Jerry Grote is my all-time favorite Met – Awesome!

      • Patrick Albanesius
        July 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

        Really like these ideas. And here’s one for you: have EYJ take grounders at SS, and provide some relieve for Tejada. With his speed and infield experience, he should be able to transition well enough.

    • Joe Vasile
      July 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

      That’s fair. Campbell has shown, once again in a small sample, that he can hit righties and is far from just a strict platoon guy. I’d really like to see Campbell used like Justin Turner was, but this is more just one way to get him more ABs now that Wright is back and his playing time at 3B has gone away for the short-term.

  2. July 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

    here is campbell swinging a hot bat , in place of wright , and what does the so-called manager do, takes him out of the line up. bring in wally backman.

  3. Name
    July 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Sorry… but this article is totally a moot point because Duda has been platooning since the start of the season… It’s just that the vast majority of starters in the game are righties. Some time ago, they even went 2 weeks without seeing a lefty.

    Of the 18 LH SP the Mets have faced, he’s only started 4 against them, and I think 2 were during the stretch when Wright was hurt and they had no backup Infielders.

    • Joe Vasile
      July 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Fair enough point, Name. Right now we’re kind of seeing a soft platoon, where Duda will get starts against lefties, but get off against tough ones. I’d like to see a more strict platoon. Don’t let Duda face a lefty, period, even if it means pinch hitting for him later in the game.

      Really the Mets went from three first baseman to one with some guys seeing spot duty there when Satin couldn’t get the job done and Davis was traded.

      Granted, Duda does have only 52 of his 297 PA against lefties.

      • Name
        July 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        If there’s one thing you can count on TC, is that he will never go soft in his platoons. Duda’s only made 4 starts against lefties all year, 2 of which were while Wright was hurt (I confirmed). That’s as strict as you can get.

        So far this year Duda is getting eaten up by the tough lefty out of the bullpen. Depending on the situation I may or may not take him out. If it’s only the 5th or 6th i wouldn’t, but if it were the latter innings I would probably do it.

        One could also make the case that he needs to see more lefties to start hitting them. Before this year he wasn’t terrible against them. He had a .715 OPS against them in 2011 and in the .600s in both 2012 and 2013.
        He’s also starting to come around as the last month against lefties I did some work and found that while he’s not hitting them at all, he’s still walking enough for ~.300 OBP.

        Personally, i would get Campbell’s bat in more via a LF platoon with Kirk.

  4. blaiseda
    July 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Isn’t that what’s in place already? Campbell’s almost always in the lineup at first base against a lefty starter.

  5. Metsense
    July 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Campbell deserves more playing time, but where? He does hit rhp with a .792 OPS but there are 3 left handed batting left fielders that also produce against RHP, Kirk with 1.066 OPS, Abreu .781 OPS and EY with a .344 OBP. The dead weight is CY who has only a .552 OPS vs LHP while Kirk has a .650 OPS vs LHP.

    Duda has a .624 OPS career vs LHP but did produce a .715 OPS vs LHP in 2011. Duda hits LHP better than the 2014 CY. Right now I would move CY, platoon Campbell and Kirk in LF and play Duda full time. The Mets need to start looking at who will be here in 2015 and quite frankly these three under 30 players have earned the look and also don’t compromise winning in 2014.

    • Chris F
      July 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      That still leaves EY for ABs in LF. We are building a log jam of 4th outfielders, and have to decide their future by seeing them play. 2014 is a lost cause, so giving ABs to CY is a flat out waste of time. I agree, we need to see if any of the kids can stick by making room.

      Id trade Abreu and Colon, DFA CY, make EY a bench guy, platoon Soup and Capt Kirk in LF. Every now and then Grandy gets a day off and we put Soup out there and Kirk in LF. Den Dekker is a phone call away in an emergency. I give Kirk until early August, then call up den Dekker for a month. Soup can also get ABs at 1B against leftys.

      This preposterous shell game (or flea circus or carnival act) of Alderson/Collins needs to come to an end so we can figure out who has MLB skills and who shall forever remain a career minor leaguer. With Conforto 1-2 yrs off all this dancing around with geezers and unknowns is killing this team.

      • Name
        July 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        I know you all love Lagares, but since his first series, his OPS has been steadily dropping. He has just a .514 OPS in his return from the DL, .684 since May 1st, and before you know, it will be under .700 for the season (currently .719).

        I would actually go with a Lagares-Soup-Kirk three man rotation which would essentially be Lagares in CF, Soup in LF with Kirk spending time at both. Believe it or not, i’d actually keep Abreu as the 5th OF and 25th man, telling him that he will rarely receive any guaranteed playing time. I’d rather have Abreu rotting away on the bench rather than a young kid.
        EY gets DFA/traded, he’s likely making 2 mil or more next year so we likely won’t keep him anyways. CY of course, should be gone.

  6. Chris F
    July 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    The DL stints interrupted Lagares’ timing. I put him in CF for the year and then see if (A) he stays healthy and (B) can keep his swing together. Coming off of DL sucks. He hasnt seen major league pitching in 3 weeks then dropped right into a flailing team. He needs time to get back, and time to produce. I dont touch him (as you might expect me to say), just like TdA now. Here’s your few months to show us that you can do it.

  7. Tess
    July 14, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I have a better idea. Let Duda hit vs LHP all year and next year. He will get better and become a more well rounded player

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