Looking back to the beginning of the 2014 season, the New York Mets had a glaring hole at first base. That hole has been filled in a big way by Lucas Duda who is having a career year. As the season has progressed, Duda has just gotten better and better. He has found a home at first base after several years of failing to produce while playing the outfield.
It’s safe to say that along with Daniel Murphy, Duda has been the best hitter on the team this season. If someone was to tell me that going into the 2014 season I would have just laughed, because Duda had done nothing to impress me in his short career with the Mets. In fact I might have been the No. 1 advocate for dumping Duda altogether, but he sure has made me eat my words.
Today Duda continued his great season with a monster game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Mets’ 11-3 win. Duda crushed a three-run home run in the top of the third inning on a ball that is probably still traveling. In the top of the seventh he singled to left to chase in a run and then for good measure in the top of the ninth launched a solo homer. He was also right in the middle of turning a triple-play which the Mets turned for the first time since 2010.
I’d say it was a great day for “The Dude” and better yet a great season thus far. He is batting .260 on the year, leads the team with 26 home runs and 76 RBIs and his 26 big flies give him the third most in the NL. I heard for a number of years that Duda was capable of being this type of player, but I just never saw it. This year he has put it all together and become the player that the Mets thought he could be.
The Mets went on this West Coast trip in a miserable offensive slump, but it seems they have come out of it. Duda is the man who has woken up this offense; over the last four games he has hit three home runs and driven in 10 runs. He is very dangerous right now and will make any pitcher pay if they make a mistake. The Mets needed someone to come through for them, because for a couple of weeks everyone just seemed to disappear.
Duda has become the cleanup hitter that the Mets desperately needed, and as he continues to progress he just needs to find a way to be more successful against lefties. That is really the only knock on him still. He has continued to struggle with left-handed pitching. On the year he is batting .154 with one home run against lefties. I can only imagine what his numbers would look like if he was successful there.
Even though the Mets won’t be in the postseason this year, they have a number of things to be happy about when looking back on the year. One of the main things will be the emergence of Duda. He has been a bright spot for a struggling team and his progression will certainly be noticed. He has made Mets GM Sandy Alderson look like a genius for dealing Ike Davis and giving Duda the position.
The Mets need him to be this big time power threat for years to come. He has been a pleasant surprise this year, but the thing that has impressed me most is that he has gotten better as the season continues. This was not just a month long hot streak; he has been a force for the Mets since the beginning of June and has only gotten better.
It’s great to see guys who have struggled for a few years finally find it on the major league level. We saw Duda at his lows in the major leagues, and we even saw him get sent down for a period of time. But it is definitely safe to say that “The Big Lebowski” is here to stay.