Nov 08

2012 Mets Player Review: Outfielders Lucas Duda And Andres Torres

LUCAS DUDA, OF

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The expectations were in the form of wishful thinking when centerfielder Andres Torres and right fielder Lucas Duda reported to spring training. Unwilling or unable to add quality outfielders in the offseason – take your pick – the Mets opted for the bargain basement route. The Mets sent the underperforming Angel Pagan to the Giants for the non-productive Torres. A change of scenery has worked before and the Mets were hoping it would again. Theoretically, Torres was going to bring speed and a high on-base percentage at the top of the order while patrolling Citi Field’s spacious outfield. The hope for Duda was two-fold: 1) provide power to a line-up void of it, and 2) learn how to play right field.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Torres’ nightmare season began the first week when he strained his left calf and went on the disabled list. Torres was sluggish upon his return and was hitting .213 by the end of May. Torres hit .230 (11 points below his career average) with a paltry .327 on-base percentage, .664 OPS and just 13 stolen bases. He also struck out 90 times. Yes, the injury set back Torres, but he also played poorly when he was in the line-up. It was a learning process for Duda, first in learning major league pitchers while playing a new position. The Mets became enamored with Duda’s power potential when he hit 10 homers in 100 games in 2011. Things soured for Duda last year to the point where he was sent to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics and approach at the plate, and he wasn’t happy about it. Duda played in only 121 games, with 105 in right field where he committed four errors and showed limited range. Offensively, he hit 15 homers with 57 RBI, both well below what the Mets were hoping. Perhaps Duda’s most significant offensive stat was his 120-51 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. That’s an awful lot of nothing.

LOOKING AT 2013: Torres made $2.7 million last season and is arbitration eligible. As weak as their outfield is, the Mets won’t tender him. Kirk Nieuwenhuis played well when he replaced Torres last year, and barring an unforeseen addition, will get a chance to win the job in spring training. Meanwhile, Pagan will hit the free-agent market and make big bucks. There was a rumor of the Mets dealing Ike Davis and moving Duda to first. I’m not buying. Duda could move to left now that Jason Bay is gone, which is a better position for him. Wherever Duda plays it won’t cost the Mets much. He made $497,318 last season.

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Aug 10

Doing things the right way.

Baseball is such a thinking man’s sport for the player. Each pitch is the start of a play and every player on the field should know what to do if the ball is hit to him, every pitcher should know what he wants to throw, and every hitter should know his objective.

Last night, Lucas Duda’s primary objective if he couldn’t get the run home was to make a productive out and move the runner into scoring position. Perhaps Duda wasn’t comfortable with the pitching match-up; he knows his limitations better than anyone. Bunting wasn’t the sexy play, but it put the Mets in position to win.

It was a great idea. It was the total team thing to do. I like his thinking and hope he always maintains that attitude.

The Mets are in position offensively where they need to manufacture runs, which is exactly what Duda accomplished. It doesn’t matter if he is the No. 4 hitter or not, he had a specific job to do and did it, which was to advance the runner to third.

There are so many situations where the No. 4 hitter would either strike out or make a non-productive out instead of advancing the runner. Yes, Duda has been hot lately, but his frame of mind in suggesting the bunt was that was his best chance of getting the job done.

There are so many statistics in baseball, many of them worthless. But there should be a “get the job done,’’ stat for offense, and it would entail, a) getting on base, b) advancing a runner with a productive out, and c) driving in a run. Basically, it should entail the percentage of times a hitter accomplishes his job and does one of the three.

I guarantee if such a stat existed and was applied to each hitter in the lineup, the team that executed at a higher rate would win the majority of the time.

The Mets, as presently constructed, aren’t an abundantly talented team. As their record indicates, they don’t overwhelm. Fundamentals should be their foundation; their mantra. Maybe that sounds boring, but executing them wins games, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

So, great for Duda. Let’s hope all his teammates were taking notes.