Lucas Duda Is Better Than You Believe
With the Mets announcement of selling, we have officially begun the silly season of people proposing ridiculous trade rumors. However, that isn’t limited to fans like you and I. That goes to people who are actually paid to write about baseball, and those that are paid to talk about it on the air. The first doozy came from Mark Feinstand of MLB.com who wrote the Mets should trade Lucas Duda to the New York Yankees for Austin Romine. Shockingly, instead of being met with derision, Evan Roberts was right on board with this one.
How can anyone be on board with that trade?
Since becoming the Mets everyday first baseman, Duda is a .247/.347/.484 hitter who has averaged 28 homers and 83 RBI in the seasons he was able to play a full season. This year, Duda is hitting .251/.362/.553 with 13 homers and 29 RBI in 53 games. That’s a 40 HR and 89 RBI pace.
Since 2014, Duda is eighth among first baseman with a 129 wRC+. Considering Edwin Encarnacion has been a DH more than 1B over that time, Duda is really seventh. If you focus on his two full seasons of 2014 and 2015, Duda has a 134 wRC+, which would rank him seventh. Again, if you view Encarnacion as a DH, Duda is sixth. And with Duda’s stats this year, it looks like he’s back to that 2014-2015 form.
Sure, Duda can be prone to bouts of streakiness (like any other player), and he had one bad throw in the 2015 World Series. That doesn’t detract from the fact Duda’s in the upper echelon of Major League first baseman.
His return should be much more than a career backup catcher like Romine. Think about it. Romine’s career numbers are .219/.268/.342, but he is better this year hitting .268/.305/.423. Sorry, those are Rene Rivera‘s numbers. Romine is a career .224/.258/.325 hitter who is hitting .231/.262/.314 this year.
How can anyone believe Duda is worth a player worse than Rene Rivera? The same Rivera who the Mets signed prior to the 2016 season because he was released by the Tampa Bay Rays after Spring Training. And by the way for all the hand wringing over Travis d’Arnaud‘s arm, d’Arnaud has thrown out to 22% of base stealers in his career to Romine’s 21%. At this point, you could even argue you would rather have Kevin Plawecki over Romine.
And yet, people believe Duda isn’t good enough to fetch more than a backup catcher . . . a bad one at that. They say that despite the Yankees, Astros, Angels, Twins, Royals, and possibly other teams being in the market for a 1B/DH.
There is going to be a point where Duda is no longer the Mets first baseman. He is going to go to another place where the fans are going to appreciate him for getting on base even when he’s cold at the plate. They’re going to be in awe of a 30 home run caliber bat. He’s going to play a good first base.
All the while, Mets fans will be bending over backwards to say no one could have expected this. It’s just another case of Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy. In reality, they’ll be wrong. Duda was this good when he was in New York, but you just failed to appreciate him.