Reporting Ed Coleman
By Ed Coleman
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Lucas Duda is big. 6′ 4″ and 254 pounds big.
He’s strong and almost frighteningly quiet and shy. It has led to confidence issues for Duda, and he has even openly questioned whether he’s ready to appear on the big stage or worthy of being at the major league level. So maybe Saturday’s breakout party down in Texas might help to get him over the hump.
Duda had a 4-hit barrage, 3 of them doubles, good for 4 RBI in a rout of the Rangers. Manager Terry Collins said for Duda, it was just what the doctor ordered.
This is a kid whom the Mets believe can be a big run producer. Duda combined for 23 HR and 87 RBI, along with 40 doubles, splitting time at Double AA Binghamton and Triple AAA Buffalo in 2010. In 38 games at Buffalo this season, he produced 10 HR and 24 RBI.
He can hit for average – a combined .304 in the minors in 2010, .302 at Buffalo this season. And he gets on base, sporting a .398 OBP last season and a .414 OBP with Buffalo this year. Duda seems to be catching on hitting lefties as well. He got his first lefty-on-lefty hit against the tough Gio Gonzalez during the last homestand, and added another on Saturday in Texas. That’s a very encouraging sign to Collins.
Duda started out the season going just 2-17 with one RBI before being sent down to Buffalo to play every day. He was briefly called up to replace Jason Bay during the left fielder’s paternity leave and went 0-3. Since being recalled for a third time, Duda has hit .297 with 8 RBI and has fared well as a pinch-hitter. Collins believes the kind of day Duda delivered in Texas should go a long way towards boosting his self-confidence.
The Mets combined for 31 hits in their two victories over Texas. Since May 22, they have the 4th highest batting average in the majors. They also have the 4th best OBP in the majors during that time. And the club’s 16 triples lead the majors during that period. But boy, could they use some power. During the 33 games that cover that span, they have hit 10 – count ‘em, 10 – home runs, the fewest in all of baseball.
But Collins has stressed winning series, and the Mets have delivered nicely on that front. Since May 30, a stretch encompassing 8 series, the Mets have gone 5-1-2. Tigertown is next, with Justin Verlander waiting on Thursday.
C U soon
Does Duda have what it takes to succeed in the bigs? Sound off in the comments below…