Saturday, April 19, 2014

Time For Lucas Duda to Step Up and Produce

Written by Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

On Friday afternoon, the New York Mets made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, shipping first baseman Ike Davis out of town in exchange for relief pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. Davis will have an opportunity to get his career back on track, as he has not been the same player since suffering an injury in 2011. For the Mets, he is no longer their problem, in turn placing a ton of trust in Lucas Duda.

Where the Mets will miss Davis the most is in the field with his glove. Davis is one of the better defensive first baseman in the MLB; Duda on the other hand leaves much to be desired. The decrease in defense at first base will be made up with an outstanding defensive outfield, as the albatross that is Duda's defense is more easily hidden at first base. But Duda will be able to make people forget about his lackluster fielding if he can hit like he is capable of doing.

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Duda will now be given every opportunity to succeed for the Mets, as he is the clear-cut starter at first base for the Amazin’s. They chose him over Davis with the expectations that he will give them more production with consistent playing time.

Thus far this season, Duda has out-produced Davis, making it seem like the correct decision for the Mets. Through 16 games, nine of which he started in, he has a slash line of .256/.333/.465 in 43 at-bats compared to .208/.367/.375 in 24 at-bats.

The pressure will be on Duda to produce now that he will get the lion’s share of playing time at first base, with Josh Satin playing against some lefties. But at the same time, Duda has had immense pressure lifted off of his shoulders, as he no longer is competing with Davis for playing time.

The mental aspect of baseball is one of the utmost importance, and the fact that Duda now only has to worry about performing, not about if his name will be on the lineup sheet everyday, will help.

At the end of the day, Duda still has pressure to produce. The Mets may have chosen him over Davis, but if he bombs this audition, he may not have many more chances left in Queens, and he understands that. “Maybe a little bit,” Duda said Saturday afternoon before the Mets were set to take on the Atlanta Braves when asked if any pressure was alleviated with Davis being moved. “But I still have to produce. If I don’t produce, I won’t play. If I don’t get the job done, someone else will.”

It is an encouraging sign that Duda understands the situation. Just because he was given the job now, does not mean he will have it three weeks from now. He currently seems to be in a good mindset, and all that is left for him is to begin producing at a high level for the Mets.

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