Lucas Duda Unfairly Criticized On Plate Approach

Ever since Lucas Duda burst into our consciousness in 2010, nobody has been satisfied with his plate approach. Too many strikeouts and not enough walks, I frequently wrote. He gives away too many at-bats. He tries to pull too much and doesn’t use the entire field.

All valid in the early Duda critique.

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

Now, unbelievably, he’s become too selective, too patient at the plate. No matter how hard I try, I don’t get this one.

Even Keith Hernandez, who has forgotten more about hitting than most of us will ever know, has been after Duda on his patience. Hernandez believes Duda should be more aggressive with runners in scoring position. Yesterday in that position, Duda worked deep into the count. And, as the at-bat continued and the talk was for him to be more aggressive, Duda lashed a 3-and-1 pitch through the right side of the infield for a RBI single in a perfect piece of hitting.

Until that swing, the conversation was about Duda’s growing patience, as if it was a fatal, fundamental flaw  instead of a strength.

Duda has a .417 on-base percentage, in large part to 21 walks. While the season is still young, his on-base percentage and OPS are the best of his career. For much of the spring he had more walks than strikeouts, but that has reversed.

However, what people are noting most are his six homers with only 11 RBI. Surely, with that much power, he should have more RBI. It it is a plausible argument, but not an all inclusive one.

Pitchers, wary of Duda’s power, have been exceedingly cautious and try to get him to chase. However, when he might have swung earlier in his career, he’s now waiting them out. Instead of giving away at-bats, he’s learned to take the walk, but that’s not a flaw.

Do you really want to see Duda be another Ike Davis, who gives away countless at-bats by flailing a pitches he has no chance of hitting?

The best thing for Duda would be to continue being patient and taking his walks. If somebody – are you listening Davis? – provided more protection behind him, then Duda might see more pitches, fastballs to be exact, in the zone.

Trust me on this one, the last thing you want is for Duda reverting to bad habits and chasing junk. The more walks he takes, the better he’ll become at recognizing pitches. He’ll waste fewer at-bats and eventually get his pitch to drive.

The expectations for Duda to walk less and swing more have been brought on by the Mets’ overall woeful offense.  The problem isn’t in Duda is taking too many pitches, but others in the batting order are not.

3 thoughts on “Lucas Duda Unfairly Criticized On Plate Approach

  1. I think what Keith was saying was that you can be too patient. Where a pitch you should crush you take because the philosophy is to make the pitcher throw the ball so you can run him out of the game.

    I also understand the line moves. Sometimes you are too aggressive and sometimes too passive.

    Ike just can’t hit the outside of the plate so that’s what they throw. He needs to sit

  2. Lucas Duda is nothing but a second rate D.H .The Mets should stop wasting thier time on him .He is what he is and that is he cant play the field and he is not a very good hitter. The Mets should just move on

  3. Oh no… He is very fairly criticized. when he produces runs for several years like Adam Dunn then he can claim he is unfairly criticized. But he hasn’t come close. He can’t run, so his walks do little with not much behind him. He doesn’t drive in runs which is what he is supposed to do hitting 4 or 5 or 6, he can’t field so he damn well better produce a lot of runs to mkae up for all the runs he gives away. HE needs to hit the ball and drive in runs. Since he doesn’t, he is as useless as the over the hill GM that Bud Selig gave to Met fans.