Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is Lucas Duda For Real? You’d Better Believe It…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

At the beginning of the season the Mets faced a decision regarding their future at first base: Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda.  The team ultimately shipped Davis to Pittsburgh, turning the full-time job over to Duda.  While Davis still has time to ultimately develop, at this point it’s easy to say that the team made the right decision.

Through Thursday he was hitting .255 with 23 HR, 69 RBI and 57 R.  It’s clear that his calling card is his power, but that’s not to say that he’s going to be a complete drain on your average.  Overall he has his strikeout rate down to 21.8% (he was over 26% each of the previous two years).  While his 19.7% line drive rate leaves a lot to be desired, it also isn’t a crippling number.

What’s going to hurt him is his 48.3% fly ball rate, as if the ball doesn’t leave the ballpark more often than not they are going to result in outs.  While he’s obviously not likely to be a .300 hitter, he also doesn’t truly have the makeup of a .200 hitter either.  The fact is he is what he is, and that’s probably someone who is going to hit right around .260.

If he can consistently do that in the middle of the order, while providing 30+ HR, no one is about to complain.  Thus far he has averaged 277.794 feet on non-groundballs, so the power does appear to be there.  Just compare that mark to some of the premier power hitters in the game (these numbers are as of Monday):

  • Giancarlo Stanton – 281.609
  • Jose Abreu – 280.362
  • David Ortiz – 286.433
  • Josh Donaldson – 276.428
  • Jose Bautista – 260.386

That’s not to say that Duda is in their class of player, but it does appear like the power is for real.  He owns a 16.2% HR/FB, so there is even room for a little bit more in the home run department (though CitiField certainly doesn’t help his cause).  Again, he’s not going to hit 40+ HR, but in the 30-33 range?  It’s quite possible.

Is Duda going to be an All-Star caliber player?  Not likely, but in this day of baseball where there is a shortage of power he is going to be a player you want to own.  He’s not going to have the price tag of the Stanton’s or the Abreu’s of the world, but he can provide some power and RBI while not killing you in the average department.

It’ll be interesting to see how he finishes the season, but at this point he’s developed into a must start option in all formats and should be expected to continue his breakout.

Make sure to check out all of our Rest of Season Rankings:

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Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps

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