The New York Mets have decided to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base, according to team insiders. This is the best way to handle a bad situation — for now.
Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin started one game apiece in the opening series against the Washington Nationals. The only one to get a hit was Davis — a single on Opening Day. No one earned this job with their performance in one series, of course. No one earned the job In Spring Training, either.
Davis and Duda went down with an injury at the beginning of spring, and neither got much playing time in when they came back. Davis had 26 plate appearances with two home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs to go along with a .208/.269/.542 slash line. Duda had 22 plate appearances with two home runs, one double, two RBIs and a .211/.318/.579 slash.
No one earned the job last year, either. Davis was horrid in the first half of the season but played better after spending some time with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. He was still devoid of power, however, and finished with only nine home runs and a .206/.326/.334 slash line. Duda was inconsistent and hit only .223, but he managed to get on base at a .352 clip. He also had 15 home runs.
Defensively, Davis used to be the clear favorite. Over the past couple of years, he’s suffered some lapses in the field, perhaps taking his at bats with him to the first base bag. He’s still going to have a step or two more range than Duda, but their defensive metrics are closer than you might think — and neither are very impressive.
Satin was the presumptive platoon mate for either Duda or Davis coming into the season. The righty-swinging, eyebrow-adorned Satin hit .317/.404/.476 in 94 plate appearances against lefties last year, though he doesn’t have much power. However, it sounds like the Mets want Duda to play every day, even against lefties. Besides, the Mets have a slew of right-handed pitchers on their schedule over the next couple of weeks.
Giving one of these guys consistent playing time is the best way to find out if he can handle the job. Playing all of them twice a week doesn’t give the team enough information to make an informed decision.
Neither Davis nor Duda is a perfect option at first. In fact, choosing between them is like deciding which deck chair on the Titanic you prefer. Each has shown flashes of brilliance over the last four or five years, but neither has taken the bull by the horns. This is Duda’s chance. If he doesn’t perform, someone else will get a chance (probably Davis). Someone has to step up, because it’s going to be a long season if the Mets can’t get any production from their first baseman.