The Dude! Lucas Duda. Duda proved late last season that he may soon be a major force at the plate. Duda came into his own last season finally, after being handed the job. He had a greater sense of job security near the end of the year. Now that Duda has been given the right field job for good, it will be interesting to see if that carries over to this season.
Duda hit .292 with a .370 on-base percentage in 347 plate appearances in 2011. He hit only ten home runs and slugged .482 pverall, but he hit all of those homers from July on, a period in which he slugged .523. He also posted a 136 OPS+ last year.
The plate is where Duda is the strongest. He has shown the ability to hit towering shots that no stadium can hold. He also has proven himself as a clutch hitter, finishing last year with an on-base percentage of .455 with two outs and runners in scoring position. He has the makings of a great hitter.
When in the field, he makes you hope for Bud Selig to swoop in and add a DH to the National League. No, it’s not that bad, but his defense is definitely not great. He can’t get to many balls, but having a speedy outfielder like Andres Torres or Kirk Nieuwenhuis playing beside him in center will certainly minimize his below-average defense.
Duda’s bat vastly outweighs his defense, however. Duda could eventually be a force to be reckoned with, especially if you go by last season’s results.
There isn’t too much behind Lucas Duda. Cesar Puello would be the next prospect behind him, but he isn’t expected to be ready until 2013. Cory Vaughn is a year behind that. If Scott Hairston can get healthy for the start of the season he may be the only real replacement for Duda. Hopefully, the Mets won’t have to worry about Duda getting hurt or missing time.
Overall Grade: B+
The backups aren’t great but Duda has potential. He has the power to hit 30 home runs per year. Bill James and other predictions say that Duda will take the next step– hitting 18 to 22 home runs, but I can easily see him taking another step beyond that and hit 25 to 30.
Come back next Saturday when I preview the starting rotation!