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Lucas Duda

Should Lucas Duda Listen to His Critics?

There is sometimes talk that NY Mets first baseman Lucas Duda needs to hit more to the opposite field. That he’ll be more successful if he does. That he used to do it more often earlier in his career. That he has become too pull happy the last couple of years. Usually we hear all these comments right after he gets a hit to the opposite field. But is any of the criticism true? Should Duda be trying to hit to the opposite field more often?

We Follow Lucas Duda

The quiet, soft-spoken Duda might be better known around baseball for Curtis Granderson‘s WeFollowLucasDuda Instagram account than for his play on the field. But the Mets first baseman has put up solid slugging numbers during his career. Like many power hitters, he is streaky. But he has a career .793 OPS (.836 vs RHP and .663 vs LHP). Known as a patient batter, he has a career .343 OBP. He likes to work the count. When Lucas is ahead in the count, he has a 1.075 OPS compared to .601 when behind in the count.
As for the pull-happy criticism, in his defense he has a career 1.202 OPS for hits pulled. Compared to only .656 OPS for hits to the opposite field. But the criticism definitely has truth behind it when it comes to infield hits. Duda’s batting average is only .062 for balls hit to the infield, compared to .499 for balls hit to the outfield.

You can see in this spray chart from BrooksBaseball that Lucas makes most of his ground outs on the right side of the infield. That’s why most teams play an infield shift on him. You can also see that while he has gotten some singles to the opposite field in his career, most of his doubles and the vast majority of his home runs have come to right field – his pull side.

Lucas Duda Hit Results

Who’s on First?

Lucas Duda has been a high on base percentage, power hitting first baseman for his entire 6 year MLB career. It’s unlikely that the 31-year-old is going to change his hitting approach now. He missed much of last season due to an injury (stress fracture in his back) and also part of this season with a hyper-extended elbow. The NY Mets will likely give him more rest this season as a precaution. Terry Collins has been platooning  Lucas with Wilmer Flores, with Duda only playing against righties. The Mets are paying him a salary of $7.1 million this year, the last year that he’s under contract with them. This winter will be his first chance at the free agent market.

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Photo by slgckgc