Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, it’s pretty certain that this will be Lucas Duda‘s last season in orange and blue. How the Mets play over the next few weeks, as well as how first base heir apparent Dominic Smith continues to hit in Las Vegas (currently .325/.377/.471), will help determine whether Duda’s last Mets at bat is in July or August. But, either way, his departure is imminent.
The big guy at first base has been a pleasure to watch – from his towering home runs to his funny Instagram account. He’s given us a lot of highlight moments in his seven plus years as a Met. The 31 year old from Los Angeles (you thought he was from Oklahoma or Nebraska, didn’t you?) was drafted by the Mets in the seventh round of the 2007 MLB draft out of USC. Demonstrating home run power and a knack for getting on base, Duda moved up through the system until he made it to the show in 2010 at the age of 24.
After a small tease, Duda joined the team in for the long haul in 2011, when he showed he could get on base with a career high .292 batting average and .370 OBP. The power wasn’t there immediately, but the coaches continued to work with him through 2012 and 2013, when he began hitting home runs (15 in each partial season), however his strikeouts went up and his average went down. Initially auditioned as an outfielder, the Mets found a better home for Duda at first base, where he showed surprisingly soft hands for a big guy. By 2014, it all began to come together for Duda, and the Mets brass were impressed enough with his potential to move on from Ike Davis and hand Duda the first base job full-time.
Duda responded with his best season to date, slugging 30 home runs and driving in 92. His follow-up season was a little less impressive, but he still walloped 27 home runs and got on base at a .352 clip. After missing the bulk of last season due to a back injury, Duda has come back strong this year with a .364 OBP and a 30+ home run pace. Unfortunately, he’s in the final year of arbitration, and with the slick-fielding AAA prospect Smith knocking down the door, it’s time for the Mets to move on from this likable favorite of fans and teammates alike.
As a few have pointed out, he’d look really good in pinstripes. The Yankees currently have a big hole at first base and their short right field porch would play into to Duda’s strengths. If they call, Sandy Alderson should listen. The Yankees have a real shot at the playoffs and a deep farm system. Duda seems destined for the American League, and why not the Yankees? At least we could keep an eye on him.