Coming into the 2014 season there was a big question mark at first base for the New York Mets. That question has finally been answered, as Lucas Duda has taken the position and ran with it ever since the Mets traded underperforming first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates. For several years we have heard about Duda’s raw power but would only see glimpses of it; now we have finally gotten to see that power on full display especially over the last ten games.
Since the All-Star Break, Duda is batting .289 with four home runs and eight RBIs, not to mention two game-winning home runs as the Mets split their four game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. The first of the two homers came off of Brewers closer and former Met Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth inning of Friday night’s game. On Sunday, Duda provided the only two runs for the Mets as he launched a two-run long ball in the top of the sixth inning which put the Mets on top 2-0 and they would go on to win by that same score.
This season has by far been Duda’s best in the majors. He already has set career highs in home runs with 18 and has tied his career high in RBIs with 57. The Mets have struggled to score runs all season long, but Duda has quietly put together a very solid season. Now he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves for his much improved play.
Coming into this season, I thought there was absolutely no shot at all that Duda could succeed as the Mets’ everyday first baseman, but thankfully he has proven me wrong. I was an Ike Davis guy all the way, but trading Davis might have actually saved Duda’s career. Think about it; if the Mets would have gone with Davis at first, where exactly would Duda be right now?
Now being the everyday first baseman, he is in his comfort zone and can just worry about his approach at the plate. With his defense not in question anymore, he has gone out there an taken care of business at the plate. It seems that he has made a conscious effort to lay off that slider in the dirt which pitchers would throw time and time again to get him out. Since he is laying off the junk in the dirt, he has gotten better pitches to hit which has shown in his numbers.
The Mets are currently sitting at 51-55 which is good enough for fourth place in the National League East, 7.5 games behind the Washington Nationals. If they want to have any shot at making a run this summer, Duda must continue to build on his solid 2014 campaign. Obviously a number of things must go right for the Mets, but Duda must continue his consistent hitting from here on out.
I am a believer in Duda. I never thought I would be able to say that, but I am. He has done enough to prove to not just me but to all the naysayers that he can be a more than serviceable first baseman for the Mets. We shall see what the remainder of the season has in store for the one they call “The Dude”, but so far he has been a bright spot for the Mets.