New York Mets manager Terry Collins recently indicated that he could envision a scenario in which Lucas Duda was a platoon player in the Mets’ outfield this season. Collins is right to be open minded to any possibility, but the thought that Duda could factor into the Mets’ outfield in any capacity is a foolish one.
Early in the offseason, it looked as though Duda was going to be the favorite to be the Mets everyday first baseman in 2014. However, when the team failed to trade Ike Davis it created uncertainty Duda as the Mets have several candidates to compete for playing time at first base this season. If Davis ends up winning the first job it would mean Duda being relegated to the bench with the outfield the best place to get him regular at bats.
However, the Mets should not go out of their way to get Duda at bats as an outfielder if he’s not the everyday first baseman. The Mets already have four outfielders who could potentially be everyday players for them this year, and at least one of them will be out of the lineup on any given day. There’s no reason to take a second one out of the lineup for Duda as it would cause a huge drop off in what is otherwise an elite defensive outfield.
Moreover, Duda was far more comfortable and productive at the plate last season when he briefly took over as the team’s everyday first baseman after Davis had been demoted but before Duda suffered an injury. For a player like Duda who already struggles with confidence issues at the plate, taking him away from his natural defensive position isn’t going to help.
If Duda doesn’t win the starting job at first base in spring training, the Mets may be better off sending him to triple-A than having him ride the bench getting few at bats, because trying to platoon him in the outfield shouldn’t be an option. Collins is right to keep his options open, but Duda playing in the outfield shouldn’t be one of them.