Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson had a big decision to make around this time last year.
He had to choose who would be his first baseman of the future: Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. Davis burst on the scene, but continued to crash after suffering an ankle injury in 2011. Still, he had a 32 home run, 92 RBI season to his name.
Duda, on the other hand, hadn’t done a whole lot. He didn’t seem to be that much of a force at the plate, wasn’t that good of a fielder, and had a quiet and shy personality that made him seem uncomfortable. The fact that he was an unheralded prospect didn’t help him, while Davis was a star prospect. Safe to say, most fans wanted the Mets to pick Davis, including me.
Boy, were we so wrong.
Alderson finally made his decision, and proceeded to trade Davis to the Pirates for two prospects. Now, it was up to Duda to prove that it was the right call. He proceeded to do just that. While Davis became a platoon player in Pittsburgh, Duda had a break out year. He hit 30 home runs, one of only three to do so in the National League, with 92 runs batted in.
He became the powerful four hitter the Mets hadn’t had since Carlos Delgado left. The Mets had Captain America in David Wright, The Dark Knight in Matt Harvey, Thor waiting in the minors in Noah Syndergaard, and now they had their Hulk.
Duda was once again under pressure going into this year. The Mets were finally expected to be good, and he had to show that last year was no fluke. So far, so good. It’s a small sample size, but Duda has been a huge part of one of the hottest starts in team history. You can easily make the case that he’s been the team MVP so far this year.
Terry Collins made a controversial decision to put Duda in the three-hole in the lineup, and Duda has made him look like a genius. So far, he’s hitting .323, with 11 RBIs and 2 home runs. The home run total is a little low but it will likely grow, and he’s done more than enough to make up for it. He’s hit 7 doubles and has a .400 OBP. So, yeah, I’ll take what he’s giving us.
Duda has also improved his fielding, and for such a large man, he’s been quite nimble in the field. He’s not likely to win any Gold Gloves, but with Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy up the middle, it’s nice to see some sure-handedness at first.
As a whole, Lucas Duda has been great so far this year. He’s put many of his doubters to rest and has been a huge cog in the Mets offense this year. If he can keep this up, not only will the Mets stay in the playoff hunt, but Duda could very well find his name in MVP talks. Lets just hope that Hulk can keep smashing.