In 2010, the New York Mets had thought that they had found themselves a new first baseman. He was a young and powerful true lefty whose defense impressed many. It was thought that this man, Ike Davis, would be the next great Met. However, things took an unfortunate turn for the worse.
While his stellar defense never faltered, he became a handicap in the lineup. It appeared that he has lost his ability to hit home-runs, or hit the ball at all for that matter. So, even though Davis impressed many in his first few years, his recent struggles opened up the first base position in 2014.
While the struggle of Ike Davis was occurring, his teammate Lucas Duda was trying to find a spot on the team. Duda, a natural first baseman, was placed into left field (later moved to right field) in hope that his hitting value would allow the team to overlook his poor fielding. It was a disaster. While Duda had a decent hitting year in 2011, it was still obvious that he did not belong in the outfield.
Another thing troubling about Duda was that he clearly was not hitting to his potential. Just watching him hit one of his monster home-runs could convince anybody that he should be a big power bat. Yet for some reason he was not hitting more than 15 home-runs in a season.
In 2014, Duda battled Davis for the first base position – a position where his defense was not detrimental to the team. By mid-April, Duda won as Davis was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was the turning point for Duda. For the first time in his major-league career, the Mets put Duda in a position where he felt comfortable. Instead of watching himself struggle in the outfield, Duda was finally in a place where he was “the guy.”
The confidence boost that this gave Duda was the key to his success. Duda went on to hit .253/.349/.481 with 30 homers and 92 RBIs in 2014 – a career year. If it had not been for Jacob deGrom, Duda would have been the obvious best surprise for the Mets last season, and some people will still argue that he was. Heading into 2015, it seems as though the Mets will have a solid first-baseman and clean-up hitter.
With Duda’s sudden rise in value, the question of trading Duda has arose. But, the Mets would be foolish to trade Duda. The Mets finally have the lefty power-bat that they have been looking for and they cannot give it up. After a season like last year, all the Mets have to do is hope that he can perform at that level again.
Will Lucas Duda be the first baseman that the Mets envisioned Ike Davis becoming? We’ll have to wait until the season the start to answer that question.