Since the last week in January, New York Mets outfielder Lucas Duda has been in Port St. Lucie, Florida at the team’s spring training complex, getting an early start on the 2013 season. For Duda, it’s a good move and the right move, as he’s coming off a season when he struggled to the point of receiving a demotion to AAA. For the Mets, it’s great to see such a young player take charge and put in an effort to get better, especially Duda, a player the Mets are going to need big things from in 2013.
For Duda, there are no more excuses. He’s old enough and has had enough exposure to major league pitching so that youth and inexperience are no longer viable excuses. This year he’ll be playing left field exclusively, a position he’s more comfortable with and a better fit to play than right field, so the excuses that he needs to focus more on his defense or is distracted by his poor play in the field are no longer viable either. Even the broken wrist he suffered after the season won’t be considered as an excuse if Duda struggles in 2013 the way he struggled last year. He’s coming into camp healthy, with plenty of experience, and knowing what his role will be and what is expected of him, and now he needs to be productive.
The Mets had a profound lack of power and a profound lack of production from their outfielders last year, two things that Duda is capable of providing for them this year. If they don’t get it from Duda, there are a limited number of options that the Mets could go to for production out of left field, and none of them possess the raw power and potential that Duda does, making Duda the best option the Mets have in left field.
The Mets desperately need Duda to have a breakout season in 2013 and showcase the power and production that he’s always been capable of. The Mets have chosen to keep him around and not seek a trade, and Duda needs to justify the Mets doing that. If Duda does begin to fulfill his potential, it would drastically alter the Mets outfield and lineup for the better, and take them one giant step closer to being a competitive team. But if not, their outfield is going to look a lot like it did last year, and it will once again be a prominent cause for the team’s struggles.