Lucas Duda: The Masher Wrapped Inside a Marshmallow

Lucas-Duda

Is Lucas Duda a good player, or not?

I’m still not sure, frankly. I guess I see him as a complementary piece. But when a team is comprised too heavily with complementary bats, like these Mets, the offense doesn’t function.

Let’s look at some numbers. As of this writing (not including Wednesday night’s game), the Mets are 37-47. That’s 84 games in the books. Across 282 PAs, Lucas Duda has put together a .252/.344/.467 slash line, which is remarkably consistent with his career numbers over more than 1,500 PAs: .247/.342/.432.

Despite the fact that Duda has started only 64 of the Mets 84 games, he has put up solid counting stats: 12 HRs, 41 RBI. Over the remaining 78 games, it’s fair to assume that he’ll get close to 70 starts (the big red flag waving on the horizon is Duda’s unacceptable 2014 performance against LHP: .159/.275/227).

Given another 310 PAs, Lucas would blow away his previous high of 459 PAs in 2012. Provided with that opportunity, it’s reasonable to project that he’d give the Mets 25 HRs and 85-90 RBI.

Folks would sign up for that, right? All for the low,  low price of $1,637.500.

He hits a HR every 20.5 ABs, and drives in a Run every 6 at-bats.

We know he can’t run and lacks defensive mobility. Yet his hands are soft and it’s fair to term his defense as “okay enough, I guess.” Is that a category?

He usually bats 6th in the lineup (38 times), compared to cleanup (only 9 times).

PITCH COUNTS TELL AN IMPORTANT STORY

When Lucas Duda swings at the first pitch (and puts it into play, presumably), which he has done 28 times this season, his slash line is .464/.464/.893.

Got that? An OPS of 1.357.

Yet this is the guy we like because he works deep counts? That’s so wrong.

Up 1-0 in the count, he has swung and put the ball into play only 13 times, with this result: .538/.538/1.462.

Down 0-1, he’s swung 23 times: .435/.458/.522. Again, amazingly productive early in the AB.

Swing the bat, Lucas.

For stark comparison, look at this:

  • AFTER 1-1: .171/.290/.324
  • AFTER 2-1: .197/.345/.352
  • AFTER 3-1: .217/.471/.391
  • AFTER 0-2: .233/.353/.395
  • AFTER 1-2: .145/.268/.261
  • AFTER 2-2: .136/.313/.182

1002569-ghostbusters_stay_puft_marshmallow_man_bank_1Wow, just wow. If Lucas Duda is up, and he’s taking pitches, working deep counts, he might work out a walk — but he sure as shooting won’t hit the ball with authority.

Swing the bat, big man. Swing often, swing early, swing hard.

Obviously, it’s a game of adjustments. You don’t want to become a robot, swinging at every first pitch. Word would get around. At the same time, passiveness does not suit Lucas Duda. The walks seem nice, as a number, but the baseball reality is that he’s a slow man clogging up the basepaths . . . batting in the wrong slot in the order.

In 2014, he’s reached base 97 times (H + BB + HBP), not counting times he’s reached on a force play (probably not often). Subtract the 12 HRs, and that’s Lucas Duda standing on base 85 times for the NY Mets, including 17 doubles. Of those 85 times, he’s come around to score 18 runs.

Because of course he does.

He’s slow and he bats 6th for the stinking NY Mets.

In the end, what have we got here? A 28-year-old mystery wrapped in an enigma, the masher inside the marshmallow. A guy getting his first real full season of play, coming to the plate 600 times, and putting up respectable numbers. A hitter who, in terms of approach, seems to do things the wrong way. Maybe some folks like that he works counts, is patient at the plate, draws walks. I don’t. I’d like to see him amp the aggressiveness up — way up.

Could he goose it to 30 HR, 100 RBI? Seems possible.

143047306_crop_north

But not if he gets patted on the back every time he takes a 2-1 fastball.

ONE LAST THING . . .

When we examine how he hits in game situations, more red flags emerge. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this, since I don’t have the league comparisons at hand. But pick a category, “2 outs, RISP,” “Late & Close,” “Tie Game” and his OPS plummets: .752, .386, .623 respectively. Maybe that’s true of most players, I don’t know.

But “Late & Close,” he’s come to the plate 60 times and put up this slash: .113/.217/.170.

Who knows, some of that likely derives from the fact he’s seeing a lefty specialist at that point in the game. Late and close, bring in the southpaw, because it turns Lucas Duda into an easy out. The Stay Puft Man.

That’s a huge flaw in his game right now, one that will likely forever prevent him from becoming a truly effective first baseman. I’m glad he’s getting a full season to show us what he can do with regular playing time. So far I’d have to say: Not bad, not great.

Final grade: Incomplete.

RANDOM FACT . . .

Bobby Abreu has PH for the Mets 27 times in 2014: .083/.185/.125.

Two freaking hits, three walks.

Sucks.

Let’s put this myth to rest.

Conversely, as a starter (21 games): .324/.400/.485.

Confusing.

And, oh yeah: Noah Syndergaard started a game in Las Vegas on Wednesday in 111 degree temperatures. Great, just great. The place, the park, is not meant for baseball, yet that’s where the club stakes its future.

 

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21 comments

  1. “We kind of like our team.” — Sandy Alderson.

    • Don’t look now, but I think we’ve just heard the Mets new motto for 2015. I’m seeing large banners festooned across Citi Field: COME SEE THE METS — YOU’LL KIND OF ALMOST LIKE THIS TEAM!

  2. Patrick Boegel says:

    Listen, stop knocking Lucas, the Mets were spot on when they passed over the One Dimensional man from Cuba..

  3. One of the obvious points that comes out of any analysis of pitch count results is that if you want to add power, it is antithetical to preach deep counts, which is exactly what Sandy does. He seeks more power — takes huge gambles on duds like Chris Young — yet also wants hitters to pick and choose and work deep counts. Well, look at the numbers across baseball. Guys don’t swing for the fences on 2-2 counts. The power numbers mostly, overwhelmingly, come from early in the count. This data supports the eye test, and the personal experience of anybody who has ever played.

  4. I like that Bob Ojeda is starting to lose it. Sandy and Terry must hate those guys, Ron, Keith, and Bobby O.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Both Keith and Bobby went hard after our “Shortstop for Life” yesterday. Yes, I’m sure they hate those guys, the team hasn’t been able to buy them off like the entire Daily News staff and their own minimum wage SNY “voices.”

      Once they are gone that will be that. It’s not like we are getting any hard hitting stuff from Rose or Lewin. And I understand, I’m not killing those guys, I had to feed my family at one time too.

  5. I know I’m just talking to myself today, but Abreu’s numbers are interesting. We’ve often heard from the game’s best pinch-hitters that you’ve got to be aggressive, go up there hacking, perhaps in part because late-game relievers have more of a mano vs. mano mentality. If that’s true, then a guy like Bobby Abreu, famous for his plate discipline, would seem ill-suited to the role of pinch-hitter. Maybe the best in that role would have more of a grip-it-and-rip-it approach?

  6. wkkortas says:

    Lucas Duda is the modern Jason Thompson–a guy you can win with but not win because of, a guy who hits lefthanders about the same as you and I would, and would benefit (as I would tenderly say to Jason when I was seeing him on TV) from JUST MAYBE SWINGING AT THE FIRST GODDAMN PITCH ONCE IN A WHILE!!!

  7. Reese Kaplan says:

    Let’s say Lucas Duda and Terry Collins went to the department store together and the salesman said to him, “We have a special today on suits — one size fits all!”

    Now, no matter what the size is, would it fit properly on either the oak tree of Lucas Duda or the pint sized Terry Collins? No, it would not.

    The same is true of hitting and pitching philosophies…they are good for discussions about what you want to have happen, but one size does not fit all. Do you remember when they told Jose Reyes to change how he ran the bases? Each player is an individual and some need more patience, some need more selectivity and some need to be more aggressive. About the only thing the Mets hitters have in common is the propensity to strike out (and to get benched by Collins after having a good day).

  8. IB says:

    Those are interesting pitch count stats, though I don’t know what to make of them. One would think the opposition has the same numbers and use them to their advantage best they can. I think anyone who watches the Mets wishes he’d be more aggressive. Swing the damned bat!

    Duda is tough to define at this point, but, I do think he can play in the NY media jungle and that’s a big plus —

    Which leads me to something I’ve been thinking about. Alderson wants to model his team on the small market strategy, but can players who thrive in small markets and make up the chemistry of a small market winner do the same in NY? Will it ever work? I kind of doubt it, but that’s strictly intuitive. This is a big market, Big Kahuna place to play every day, with all the pressures that go with it. And that goes for the bench too. Filling your bench with AAAA players might work in Pittsburgh, but not here.

  9. IB says:

    Re. Alderson’s tantalizing run deferential comments, I always go back to Bob Murphy’s, “Oh, so close” after every inevitable loss. Didn’t help then, doesn’t mean shit now. If anything it exposes the glaring problems with this team.

    • It also exposes the idea that, given the run differential, that 79-83 would be pretty good. Or acceptable. Or a team we kind of like. Meanwhile, I have a friend trying to give away two tickets to games on Friday and Sunday. And I’m sitting here upstate, considering it, the drive down, the drive back, the boring game itself . . . but at such savings. Then you think of sleeping in, maybe working out, swimming in the pool, grilling some meat. There’s just nothing compelling going on in that park right now. OTOH, I’m looking forward to a trip to Binghamton next week.

      • IB says:

        The company I work for has 4 field level seats for employee use. They can’t give the weeknight seats away anymore. Nobody wants them.

        • Michael Geus says:

          Weeknights are a mess. Even if the team was good (try and imagine!) it means either not sleeping or being late to work the next day. I don’t think teams care that much, they are willing to trade gate sales for TV revenue. My first adjustment to the length of games was to cancel my season tickets. My second one, IB, was finding myself turning down great free tickets as you mention above. And unlike JP, I can get to the game and home very quickly. It’s barely more effort than going to a movie, and much less effort than heading in to MSG for a basketball game. Which people still clamor to do on weeknights (the Rangers too.)

          That’s okay, for now. It will become a huge problem when the Baby Boomers finally all start kicking the bucket. Because the TV demographics show they are the only ones really watching.

          In a few years the only commercials you are going to see for baseball games will be for joint replacement surgery and erectile dysfunction.

      • wkkortas says:

        “I’m looking forward to a trip to Binghamton next week.” That’s not one of the most commonly used phrases in the English language.

  10. Patrick Boegel says:

    As far as Alderson, I took his advice and stopped listening to him and just dink beer.

  11. Michael Geus says:

    I said last week that I thought Duda was being the best Duda he can be. The problem is that is he fine, but nothing special. On the offensive side we have mostly guys that fit his profile, nothing special, combined with guys who flat out stink. It’s a very boring combination. At least when we stunk in the late 70s and early 80s there was the chance that Dave Kingman would hit a moonshot.

    The teams of this era are not the worst Mets teams I have ever seen, but they are the most boring. They are very tough to watch. The late 70s early 80s Mets, as well as the pre-1969 gang, were the baseball equivalent of watching a bad Burt Reynolds movie. Overall it was rough but you might have chuckled once or twice. This team is like a bad Federico Fellini movie. Afterwards your head hurts, you don’t understand half of what you saw, and you wish you had the time spent back.

  12. Raff says:

    I’m not seeing Duda everyday, as you are. From what I’ve seen, almost every time I’ve seen him play, he’s not Just OK, defensively. And he’s really bad on the bases. He loses concentration both on the bases and in the field. I see him costing runs and giving away outs repeatedly. I don;t have the stats- but sometimes the stats don;’t tell the story- sometimes it’s the specific games- the games you can point to and say “he cost us” Statistically- not covering the bag, or making a base-running “error” tallies the same, whether you’re up 4-2 or down 4-2, so it’s important, I think, to get a fix on the times a guy costs the team an opportunity to win. I just see too many times, in my own limited “sample”, where Duda Costs the Mets an opportunity to win. I think he’s a DH. I don’t think you can “win with him”, if your definition of winning is WINNING IT ALL.. I can’t see a Division Title, A NL Champion, or a WS Winner with Duda at 1st. An 85 win team?- OK- Duda can be on that team- He’s not the biggest problem they have, and I don’t want to beat up on him, but there’s no way you WIN with him.

  13. Mettle from Blue and Orange Nation says:

    I agree- I still am undecided about Lucas Duda. On one hand, he can crush the ball. On the other hand, he has played so poorly defensively that he can make you think of Todd Hundley.

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