Lucas Duda’s Horrible At Bats Will Cost Him Starting Job At First Base

Duda

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets are not going to make the playoffs in 2013. Their ace, Matt Harvey, is out for the season and half of their starting lineup has spent most of this year in the minors. Yet they still have something to play for.

Besides pride, Lucas Duda is playing for the starting job at first base in 2014. The incumbent, Ike Davis, had a horrible year that was shortened due to injury. As a result, Duda has essentially had a month long try out to show manager Terry Collins that he deserves to start over Davis next year – but he is not taking advantage.

The Mets beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Sunday in 12 innings, and Duda scored the game winning run. But he was 0-for-4 on the day and had some horrible at bats.

In his first plate appearance, he was ahead in the count 2-0 when Miami pitcher, Tom Koehler, threw him a hanging change-up over the heart of the plate. It was a pitch begging to be hit out onto the Pepsi Porch beyond the right field wall, but Duda took it for strike one. Koehler next threw him a fastball inside, and Duda took it for strike two. With a 2-2 count, Koehler bounced a slider a foot in front of home plate. Duda tried to check his swing, but he went around for strike three.

In an at bat that he was ahead in the count 2-0, Duda struck out without ever taking a full swing. Yes, guys strike out, it happens, but he took the two most hittable pitches of the at bat for strikes and swung at one not even Vladamir Guerrero could hit.

His second at bat wasn’t much better. Koehler’s first pitch was a change-up down and away – swing and a miss, strike one. The second pitch was a fastball up and in under Duda’s fists – swing and a miss, strike two. The third pitch was another fastball inside that jammed Duda and he popped out to center field. It was a three pitch out where the barrel of Duda’s bat didn’t even come close to the ball.

Duda went on to pop out and ground out to shortstop in his next two at bats before drawing a walk in the bottom of the 12th. True, he scored the game winning run but it was a pathetic offensive performance from a guy who is supposed to supply some left-handed power to the lineup.

Next year, the Mets will need Duda to protect David Wright in the batting order. Collins has said he wants to see Duda hit the ball out of the park, but he is never going to fulfill these expectations if he continues to take the pitches he should hammer and swing at ones he cannot handle.

To Koehler’s credit, he pitched a great game and shut down the entire New York lineup. Nevertheless, the Mets would not have needed 12 innings to win if Duda had made Koehler pay for his early mistakes.

Duda has first base locked up for the rest of the year, but unless he starts showing some real offensive production, come 2014, he’s going to be back in triple A, Las Vegas.

James O’Hare is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare and add him to your network on Google.

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  • Ted Danson

    I assume you also think Ike Davis is the answer.

    • James

      I never said that. I said Duda hasn’t done enough to take Davis’ job. Davis has been absolutely horrible at times but he’s shown a lot more potential than Duda. Unless they sign someone in the offseason like Kendrys Morales or Justin Morneau, the only options the Mets are going to have at first base are Davis and Duda. I’d take Davis every time. Or they could try and convert WIlmer Flores but, again, I think they’d be better off with Davis.

      • Ted Danson

        I figured you say that so no big surprise. Ike horrible at times? How about months at a time. I guess you don’t mind .160 for the first half next year either. Watch out Chris , Ike is rewriting that story. I will tell Norm you said hi.

        • James

          Davis batted .290 in August before going on the DL. He’s not going to put the team on his back but he’s clearly a better option than Duda.

          • Ted Danson

            He hit .205 for the year !!!! .Even his August numbers are skewed. How many left handed pitchers did Ike see in August? He is a slap happy platoon player at best. Clearly you’ve been buying to much snake oil form Ike. For his career, Duda is hitting .295 with an .853 OPS when he plays at first. Not to shabby.

          • James

            Yes, Davis hit .205 for the year. He was at .161 when he was sent down to the minors. That means he raised his average .44 points after he was called back up. Not too shabby.

            I get that he struggled mightily this year. He couldn’t hit a slider to save his life and it was on the back of his mind which made him late on fastballs. But he showed a lot of improvement after he rejoined the Mets and he’d still be playing first base if he hadn’t gotten hurt. The point of this article is not to sing Davis’ praises. If the Mets can sign someone like Kendrys Morales, Justin Morneau or even James Loney this off-season they should. But if they’re stuck with Davis and Duda, with a .239/.355/.439 stat line this year, Duda hasn’t done enough to take the starting job from Davis — no matter what the memes may say.

    • James

      Also, tell Norm I said wassup

  • James Preller

    I’m glad to see a critical look at actual ABs. He can be maddening at times. The approach that Sandy demands is out-of-touch with contemporary baseball. And it surely doesn’t work for everybody. However, neither Duda nor Davis can possibly “protect” David Wright at the plate next season, and to even contemplate such a scenario is akin to punting another season. At best, both Duda and Davis might become dangerous hitters, never great ones. They need to bring in two bats, one of whom must be a middle of the order guy. If so, maybe the Mets can cobble together an acceptable platoon at 1B with low expectations. Ike Davis hit 6 balls hard all season.