If there’s one word to describe Lucas Duda’s time with the New York Mets, it would be the same word used for Carlos Beltran’s time with the team: underappreciated.
Although it may not be to the same extreme as Beltran, who often gets very unfairly blamed for one bad at-bat in Flushing, Duda’s success with the team was often overshadowed by some unjust criticism.
Many see his time with the Mets defined by his errant throw home in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. That play allowed the Kansas City Royals to tie the game and, eventually, go on to clinch the title.
Let’s be clear: Duda’s throwing error against the Royals was far from the only reason why the Mets lost the World Series.
Along with being viewed as a below average fielder, Duda was also often seen as somebody who only hit meaningless home runs, was too streaky of a hitter, and got injured too often.
However, much of this critique was unwarranted.
The most unfair criticism was that he wasn’t clutch at the plate. There were multiple instances, especially during the Mets run to winning the pennant in 2015, where Duda came through when it mattered most.
Everybody remembers the Mets sweeping the Washington Nationals in a three-game series at the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline, dubbed the “Wilmer Flores series.” But people often forget that it was Duda who powered the Mets to victory in the second game.
Duda knocked in all three runs in the team’s 3-2 victory, smacking a pair of home runs and a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning. That win moved the Mets to within a game of first place.
Then there was the team’s NL East-clinching win on Sept. 26, 2015, in Cincinnati. Duda hit a grand slam in the first inning which sent the Mets off-and-running in what became a blowout win.
And what about the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field that clinched the pennant that year for the Amazins’? Who hit a three-run homer with two outs in the first inning that game the Mets all the momentum they needed to get the sweep? Duda.
Another instance where Duda didn’t get enough recognition was in Game 5 of the 2015 National League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Many remember Daniel Murphy stealing third base and eventually scoring the game-tying run in the top of the fourth inning against Zack Greinke. What people forget is that it was Duda who laid off a tough pitch on a 3-2 count to move Murphy into scoring position.
The timing was right for the Mets to trade Duda, whose 125 home runs rank seventh on the Mets all-time leaderboard. home run list.
He was about to become a free agent and, with prospect Dominic Smith waiting in the wings, he wasn’t coming back to Flushing. But Duda should be celebrated for what he accomplished—it’s far more than most fans acknowledge.