Since July 20, Duda is batting .405 with seven RBI’s while finally delivering on some of his power potential by slugging two home runs in the past week.
Are we ready to see the new Lucas Duda?
With the highly anticipated departure of Carlos Beltran becoming official this week, Duda has firmly entrenched himself as the heir apparent in rightfield. It’s time to see if Duda, does in fact, have a potential long term future with the Mets.
As of Friday, Duda owns a respectable .283/.359/.465 slash line.
What Duda does remarkably well is get on base via the walk while making productive outs. Duda has 15 walks on the year and has a very commendable .359 on-base percentage as a result. In the last 16 games it has been even better, as Duda has been walked nine times, while only striking out three times.
What was missing from Duda’s game for most of the year, was remarkably his power. So, the two home runs hit in the last week is definitely an encouraging sign. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to end the year with around 10 or so dingers.
It’s conceivable that Duda can become a regular 20-30 home run type of hitter, maybe as soon as next year. I have called Duda a poor man’s Adam Dunn in the past, and there is no reason to believe that can’t be a valid comparison with the way Duda swings the bat and gets on base.
If Duda shows that consistent source of power down the stretch that he was lacking earlier in the year than Duda just might find himself as the Mets’ regular right fielder moving forward.
If you look at the Mets lineup, with an eye on 2012 and beyond, you figure rightfield is the only logical place for him to get at-bats. With Jason Bay and his immovable contract in left, and Ike Davis a fixture at first base (Duda’s other possible position), than right field is the only place where Duda can seemingly fit in.
With Beltran gone, Duda has to step up and show he’s got a major league game. With the Mets currently on a five-game winning streak and scoring runs at will, Duda must take what he learned from Beltran and apply it with consistency if he wants to keep this job.
So far, so good on that front. With Beltran gone, and with him being such an integral part of the lineup, guys like Duda, Bay and David Wright have to keep the middle of the lineup a semi-feared unit.
It’s likely that the Mets won’t be all that aggressive in the open market come this winter. All of their available money should be earmarked to keep Jose Reyes in town. So, Duda assuredly will want to seize this opportunity and run with it. Internally, there doesn’t seem to be any other plausible candidates to challenge for the right field position.
Right field is Duda’s job to lose. Let’s hope he continues making strides and becomes the player we all envision him to be.