Lucas Duda is very glad that Jay Bruce and Travis d’Arnuad are on the team. They may or may not be buddies in real life but those two keep Duda from being the least popular starter. It’s hard to understand why Duda isn’t more liked by the fanbase. Perhaps there are people who haven’t shaken the image of what a lousy outfielder he was. Or maybe they prefer guys who are more colorful.
In his last two healthy seasons, Duda has put up a 130 and a 137 OPS+, which is very strong production. In his last healthy year, Duda posted an .878 OPS against LHP. Both UZR (+0.3) and DRS (+9) show him being average or better defensively the past three years. Yet too many fans have his bags packed and eagerly await his replacement, regardless if that’s Bruce or Wilmer Flores of Dominic Smith.
Of course, Duda missed significant time last year with a back injury and then needed two cortisone shots to get on the field this Spring. But since he started playing, Duda has been hitting quite well, with a .911 OPS in Grapefruit League play, with eight of his 10 hits going for extra bases. Everyone’s talked about the good Spring Michael Conforto has had. Conforto has an .873 OPS. No one much mentions Duda’s play.
Here’s our chance to discuss Duda and below are our individual forecasts for him:
The expectation is that despite his success versus lefties in 2015, that Wilmer Flores will see time at first when a southpaw is on the mound, thus cutting into his plate appearances. Furthermore, Duda has been batting lower in the order, frequently seventh during Grapefruit League season. Still we have a wide range of outcomes, with Mike K. seeing 350 PA and Chris forecasting 600. We have Matt predicting a HR surge with 34 in 400 PA and John expecting just 18 in 410 trips to the plate.
Here is our official forecast:
Given the playing time expectation, our forecast seems a tad optimistic on the power production. Now let’s see what the computer model – which don’t know that he’s likely to be at least partially platooned – see for Duda:
Indeed, ours stands apart from the two computer models. That’s not surprising but it’s at least a little interesting that Steamer projects 67 more PA yet the HR and RBI forecasts for Steamer and ZiPS are nearly identical.
Check back tomorrow as we turn our projections to Bruce.