By Gem Tablak
Last we heard, Lucas Duda still hasn’t been cleared to partake in any baseball activities & the furthest he’s been able to push it has been on the bicycle. The reason being is because of the fracture he has in his back & I’d like to believe he was only hitting .231, is because of his bad back but I don’t know that to be true.
Throughout his career, we’ve seen Duda go on 2-5 week cold stretches quite a few times a season. In 7 seasons, Duda has an average of .247, a .343 OBP & a .451 slugging percentage while striking out 603 times in 2219 AB’s. The numbers looked at as a whole are not bad at all. A lot of GM’s & manager’s would take a .247 batting average as long as the OBP & Slugging Percentage remain where they are but when you start breaking down his months & cold stretches, it can get really brutal & that’s not what this Mets ball club needs out of there 3-4-5 guys.
Last season, in the month of June Duda hit an abysmal .187 with only 1 HR & 8 RBI’s. The following month in July, he hit for a lower average at .178 but the power began to show. Out of his 16 hits in that month of July, 8 of them were HR’s & he drove in 12 runs, 20 RBI’s in 2 months out of your clean up hitter just isn’t going to cut it when you’re in the midst of a play off race.
Since Duda has been out, the Mets made the move of acquiring James Loney, who at the time was playing first base for the Padres AAA affiliate & was had for basically nothing. Since joining the Mets, Loney has appeared in 23 games & has a total of 86 AB’s & a .302 average, .362 OBP & a .453 Slugging Percentage. For Loney that also equates to 2 HR’s & 8 RBI’s & in the last 7 games Loney has been one of the Mets best if not the best, batting .417 & getting on base 50% of his AB’s. So while Loney isn’t exactly mashing the ball out of the park but he does have 5 doubles because he finds the gaps pretty well & has the tendency to hit line drives with his smooth swing through the zone.
UPDATES: .321/.377/.625 in last 15 games*
So Duda & Loney are 2 completely different ball players that happen to be on the same team & play the same position & both gentleman are left handed at the plate so I’d imagine there isn’t a whole lot of room for both players once Duda returns & while there has been no progress on a return date for Duda, the Mets do expect him to be back this season unlike DW5. So while Duda is giving us that all or nothing approach with a bunch of walks sprinkled on top, Loney has been the type of player that keeps the line moving & we saw that work for a particular AL Central team in the 2015 World Series.
So should Duda be worried about his starting job? Should he be worried about his place with the Mets in general? I don’t think he should but I wouldn’t be surprised if he probably is, since when the Mets acquired Kelly last season, Duda went into TC’s office & asked if his job was at risk. That doesn’t sound like a confident, 6’4″ 240 LB clean up hitter to me. So I’m sure Duda is watching, cheering on his mates, but Duda now know’s that the Mets have other viable & possible better options at the position. This very well might be a “make or break” season for Duda in the eyes of the Mets front office. Especially with Dominic Smith waiting on the horizon.