The next three-plus months will be huge for New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who will be playing for his Mets future with contract negoitations coming up at season's end. The 28-year old Duda will be arbitration eligible, something the Mets will want to avoid, should his performance warrant contract talks at all.
Duda officially took over the Mets starting first base job on April 18, when Ike Davis was dealt to Pittsburgh. Since the trade, he's played in 55 games, starting 49 of them, but has put up some rather unremarkable numbers, batting just .233 with seven homers and 27 RBI while striking out 41 times. On the season, Duda is batting .241 with ten homers and 35 RBI, with 54 strikeouts and an on-base percentage of .337.
For most ballclubs, you'll find their first baseman batting somewhere between the third and fifth spots in the order however, that's not the case with the Mets, who have slotted Duda in the sixth spot or lower for 49 of his 69 games this season. Ironically enough, his better numbers have come out of the five-hole, as he's batting .311 with three homers and seven RBI in just thirteen games (50 plate appearances) there this season. When batting in his usual sixth spot, Duda has hit .231 with five homers and 21 RBI in 39 games (154 plate appearances).
Like Davis, Duda had a big breakout season early in his Mets career, 2011 in his case. In 100 games that season, Duda hit .292 with ten homers and 50 RBI and looked to be another product of the Mets farm system who would become a mainstay at Citi Field. Since then, he's failed to hit above .240 the past two seasons and despite respectable power numbers (15 homers in 2012 and 2013), he's failed to produce many runs, driving in 88 in the two years combined.
With the Mets outfield suddenly crowded with the additions of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson this year, there isn't much of an opportunity for Duda to factor in anywhere but first base. If he's going to justify his place on the roster he'll need to do it with his bat and if Duda can even bat .250 with 15-20 homers and 60+ RBI, a one or two year extension could be in the cards.
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