by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Coming out of last season there was a general feeling of disappointment when it came to the Mets’ Lucas Duda. Before we get into the details and trying to understand why, let’s first take a look at our 2015 preseason projection as compared to the numbers he actually posted (which was actually pretty close to dead on):
So why the feeling of disappointment? A lot of it was the inconsistency, with the power coming in bunches to go along with periods of virtual nonexistence.
The problem was more centralized to the first half, hitting 2 HR in 80 AB in April and 1 HR in 91 AB in June. Over the final three months, while he still had his ups and downs, he was putting up a bit more consistent power:
- July – 8 HR in 90 AB (1 HR every 11.25 AB)
- August – 3 HR in 46 AB (1 HR every 15.33 AB)
- September – 6 HR in 66 AB (1 HR every 11.00 AB)
If he maintained that over the entire season no one would complain. He did post an average distance on non-groundballs of 272.871 over the first three months (277.082 over the final three months), so there is every reason to think that he can find the consistency.
Surprisingly the split shows more power at home (19) than on the road (8) in ’15. It’s just another reason to believe that he can rediscover his power stroke and provide 30+ HR in a full season.
He does put a few too many balls in the air, which is going to keep him from hitting .290+. That said, for a power hitter strikeouts aren’t an issue (24.9% in ’15, 23.6% for his career) and he showed an elevated line drive rate last season (22.0%). With the power stabilizing he should be able to hit in the .250-.260 range, with a little bit more luck leading to a .270ish average.
While he did perform well against southpaws last season (.285/.333/.545), there’s still a good chance that he sits against tough lefties. There’s nothing wrong with that, and he certainly will benefit from no longer being viewed as “the guy” in the Mets lineup. How many times will opponents walk Yoenis Cespedes thus putting Duda in position to perform?
There’s going to be opportunity and upside, especially since the consistency issue doesn’t look as obvious late in the season. While first base is a deep position, fantasy owners shouldn’t make the mistake of overlooking Duda and his potential. While he’s not a starter, as a corner infielder or depth piece there is reason to buy.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps