Despite his power surge over the last week or so, Lucas Duda is not the future of the New York Mets at the first base position.
When Lucas Duda, 31, started his career in 2010, the New York Mets organization thought he was going to be the first baseman of the future. The seventh-round draft pick back in 2007 has been defined by injury and inconsistency.
In the first game of his career, he ended up leaving in the eighth-inning with hamstring cramps. This was a minor foreshadowing for how his career would turn out.
Most Mets fans have been disappointed with the production that he has offered the team in the last seven years. After a month stint in the majors in 2010, he was sent to Triple AAA in 2011 and came back up in August of that year. He batted .292 for the rest of that season. At the start of the 2012 campaign he hit .262, but then in the middle of the season he really struggled and was demoted to Triple AAA again. He came back up in August, and just hit .239 the rest of the way.
This was not the ideal start to his career for the first baseman, considering the expectations the organization had for him. They were hoping for more from him the next year. However, in June of the 2013 season, he was placed on the DL with a strained muscle in between his ribs. After he came back, he batted just .223 for the rest of the way.
Then he finally came to life a bit.
The next two years were his breakout seasons, as he combined for 57 home runs and 165 RBIs. In the second year, the Mets had made a playoff run and this was his time to show that he can be a clutch player that the organization can rely on in the biggest moments. However, he batted just .234 with one homer and eight RBIs in the postseason and also made the errant throw to home plate in the final game of the World Series.
Finally, the Mets were getting a little consistency out of Duda in the regular season. Even though they were his best seasons, he hit under .260 in both of them, showing that he was becoming a home-run or bust kind of player. These two seasons also highlighted his streaky play. During his 30-homer season in 2015, he had eight homers in one week, and then in the month of July, he just hit .178.
Moreover, last year at the end of May, Duda was placed on the 15-day DL with a stress fracture in his lower back. He did not return the rest of the season, finishing with only seven homers. This season, he was placed on the DL near the start of the season with a hyperextended left elbow. He has now come back and displayed some power in the last couple weeks. However, don’t be fooled.
He only had more than 25 homers twice in his career. Only once in his career did he have an average over .253 and that was his first full season back in 2011. As a cleanup hitter in the lineup, he is supposed to be driving in runs, and he has only had more than 75 runs driven in twice in his career.
Additionally, there is another first baseman in the Mets farm system named Dominic Smith, 22, who is rising each day. The L.A. native is the Mets second top prospect, right behind shortstop Amed Rosario.
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In Double-AA Binghamton last year, Smith batted .302 with 14 home runs and 91 RBIs while this year in Triple AAA Las Vegas, he is hitting .308, with seven long balls and 38 Runs Batted In. He is already offering the Mets something that Lucas Duda has failed at. A high average, and a lot of RBIs. There is no guarantee that he will be able to produce the same way in the majors, but he definitely has more upside than Lucas does at this point.
With the Mets in Win Now mode, there is only so much time Lucas Duda has left to prove himself. If Duda doesn’t start producing at a higher level really soon, the Mets are going to have to turn to their first baseman of the future to give them more productive at-bats. Duda is 31 already, and the clock is winding down for him in New York.