An Ode to The Dude

Lucas Duda.  The Dude.  The Big Lebowski.  If there is one player on the Mets who would be most deserving of the title of “Most Underrated” it would be Lucas Duda.  I arrived at this conclusion based on my own subjective, and fallible, perception of the casual baseball fan’s perception about Lucas Duda; which I would assume would be somewhere in the vicinity of none.  Some of his relative underratedness may stem from the fact that he was relatively “streaky” during the course of this regular season, which is an inherent trait of a player who produces a large amount of his value by way of the home run.  Also, after Duda had eight straight hits go for home runs during the course of a seven-game stretch in late July, Yoenis Cespedes caught the eyes of the national media from basically the moment he was traded to New York.  That being said, I think Mr. Duda deserves a little recognition for his solid year, especially since he looms as an important figure in the active World Series.

On the surface Duda has almost exactly replicated his breakout 2014 in 2015.  For reference, this table of arbitrary statistics:

Statistic 2014 2015
WAR 3.2 3.1
wRC+ 136 133
BABIP 0.283 0.285
ISO 0.228 0.242

His overall value has remained almost exactly the same over the past two years as he has churned out two straight 3-win seasons.  His walk rate and strikeout percentage have been fairly stable as well, as has his various swing rates.  In this regard Lucas has been remarkably consistent.

However, there is one portion of Duda’s underlying statistics that differed significantly from this year to the rest of his career.  Duda pulled the ball less, and went to opposite field more.  Here is another table to illustrate this fact:

Year Pull% Cent% Oppo%
2012 44.0% 34.2% 21.8%
2013 45.9% 31.7% 22.5%
2014 44.1% 34.7% 21.1%
2015 39.0% 33.9% 27.1%
Career 43.2% 33.8% 23.1%

* The table starts in 2012 simply because the prior years don’t really provide any additional insight

 

And here are the batted-ball maps for 2o14 and 2015 to further illustrate Duda’s change in approach:

duda2014

duda2015

It looks as though Duda has tried to make himself a more balanced hitter, and decrease the amount of shifts he faces, as he has made an obvious attempt to go the other way more often this year.  This didn’t result in any additional offensive value this year – as we saw in the first table his overall value stayed steady – as we didn’t even see an increase in BABIP.  Regardless, this seems to be a trend worth keeping an eye on, and worth remembering during the World Series.

In specific regard to the World Series, Duda has a relatively significant platoon split; Career 91 wRC+ vs LHP, 136 wRC+ vs RHP.  With the Kansas City Royals featuring right-handers Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Chris Young, Wade Davis, Ryan Madson, and Kelvin Herrera, among others, Duda looks to occupy an important role during the series.  With all of Kansas City’s probable starters being right-handed Duda should start every game, and it doesn’t seem like he will be pinch-hit for too often with Kansas City’s three best relievers being right-handed as well.

Lucas Duda; chronically underrated, and under-spoken, might just be the Mets’ most pivotal player during this World Series.  Or not.  Probably not, there are a lot of players on a baseball team, but he will assuredly be a pivotal player.  The Dude Abides.



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