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How Lucas Duda Went From Scrub to Slugger

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

On this one, the Mets actually made the right choice.

Undecided between first basemen after an injury-riddled and inconclusive spring training, the Mets opened the 2014 season with Lucas Duda and Ike Davis continuing to wage their campaign for the starting first base job. The previous season, each of them–having once been regulars–spent time in Triple-A.

Davis hit a game-winning grand slam to beat the Reds in the fifth game of the season, but Duda won the job and has been running with it ever since.

In fact, in a season again punctuated by myriad offensive failures for the franchise, Lucas Duda has been a resounding success. The big lefty has 26 home runs after crashing two tape-measure shots in the last game of the Mets’ road trip in Dodger Stadium Sunday. Duda actually hit 15 home runs in less than a full season in 2013, but 13 of them came with no one on base, and Duda struggled often with men in scoring position (he hit .145 in those situations), when his often too-passive approach was a real detriment.

But this season, Duda has been far more aggressive in RBI situations, much more inclined to jump on the first strike he sees and much less likely to watch strike three. His teammates, unfortunately, have not usually followed his lead.

While Duda is now third in the National League in home runs, Davis has hit just seven home runs in 324 plate appearances, and is now seeing his playing time curtailed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s also worth remembering how Lucas Duda’s major league career began. Duda made his major league debut four years ago next week in Wrigley Field. He got off to a start that would bury many players for good, getting one hit in his first 33 at-bats. The Mets stuck with him, and Duda stuck with it, and now, four years later, he’s one of the premier sluggers in the National League.

The Mets have a lot of decisions they must make to address their floundering offense in the off-season. But they don’t have to worry about finding a first baseman anymore.

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