Curious Move For New York Mets to Give Lucas Duda First Shot at 1B

By Todd Singer
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The New York Mets‘ first base position has been a topic of discussion all offseason long through Spring Training and has even bled into the regular season. Through their first three games, the Mets have used three different first basemen — Ike Davis started the opener, Josh Satin went in the second game against lefty Gio Gonzalez and Lucas Duda got the call in the third game of the season.

While two-man platoons consisting of players who bat from different sides of the plate are fairly commonplace, a three-man platoon is almost unheard of. As such, after rotating the three-man platoon for the first three games, manager Terry Collins has decided that he’s going to give Duda the first crack at earning the everyday job.

This comes as a surprise to many, given Davis’ more successful history, superior glove and the fact that Collins thought highly enough of him to give him the Opening Day start. While Davis certainly hasn’t done anything to solidify the spot for himself, the way things have transpired make the selection of Duda all the more curious.

In Duda’s only start, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and looked very suspect in the field. Somehow this was enough to convince Collins that he should be the first baseman going forward, at least for the near future. It remains to be seen how long Duda’s leash will be, but if Davis came into this season as an afterthought, which is how it now appears, it makes you wonder why the Mets didn’t make a greater effort to move him.

Even though general manager Sandy Alderson was adamant about not trading Davis for the sake of trading him, by giving Duda a shot to take the reins full-time, the Mets are essentially further diminishing whatever little value Davis may have had left. Davis’ inability to play any other position besides first base (although he did play some right field at Arizona State, but never in the majors) also makes him a bit of an albatross for the bench, where players are usually able to field multiple positions.

With Satin also in the mix, one wonders where the Mets are going to find enough starts for him and Davis. The Mets have always liked Duda’s approach at the plate, as he fits Alderson’s preferred mold of a selective hitter with raw power. While Davis showed an improved eye at the plate upon his return from the minors last season, New York clearly doesn’t believe he can sustain that approach otherwise he’d likely be Collins’ choice to get the first crack at the everyday job.

Both Duda and Davis were injured for much of Spring Training which further clouded the team’s decision. Neither player was able to make a significant enough impact to distance himself from the other, and that’s left the Mets in the situation they currently find themselves in — muddled uncertainty.

With New York off to an 0-3 start, it’s understandable why the Mets felt the need to try and clear up some of that uncertainty, but their decision still has a lot of people puzzled and will continue to unless Duda can finally achieve some consistency for the first time in his young career.

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