The 2015 campaign of Lucas Duda did not have a pleasant ending for the slugger or his legions of fans. When looking back at this season, many Mets supporters will remember Duda best for his wild throw to the plate during Game 5 of the World Series. With New York clinging to a 2-1 lead with one out in the top of the ninth, Kansas City runner Eric Hosmer attempted to score from third on a Mike Moustakas ground out. After receiving a perfect throw from David Wright, Duda threw to the plate with plenty of time to nab Hosmer. Unfortunately, the ball sailed wide of catcher Travis d'Arnaud and the Royals succeeded in tying the score. They ended up winning the game and the series in the 12th inning.
But you knew all of that already, and that's why Duda isn't as beloved a figure in New York as perhaps he should be. After all, the left-handed first baseman did what we all wanted him to do in 2015: He showed that his power surge of 2014 wasn't a fluke and that he can be a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat for years to come. He doesn't have the star power or flair of Yoenis Cespedes, but Duda was just as important, if not more so, to New York's 2015 success. He hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 home runs for a 133 wRC+ over the length of the season.
Those numbers were right in line with his breakout 2014 campaign, but they don't mean that Duda was consistently excellent all year long. After getting off to a blistering start in April and May (.298/.394/.539, nine home runs), he cooled off and slumped horribly in June with a .576 OPS and just a single long ball. July was much of the same, until late in the month when Duda rediscovered his power stroke with six home runs in four games between July 25 and July 29. That run culminated with his only three-homer game of the season in a 7-3 loss to San Diego. However, Duda was well on his way to hitting more meaningful shots.
On August 1, he defeated the Nationals almost by himself with two home runs and the game-winning RBI double in a crucial 3-2 Mets victory. One night later, Duda homered again during a five-run third inning that lifted New York to a 5-2 win and a virtual tie with Washington atop the National League East.
Although a back injury prevented Duda from posting further August heroics, he returned to the lineup regularly in late September and showed he was just fine by hitting five home runs in three games against the Reds and Phillies. That stretch didn't foreshadow a dominant postseason showing, but The Dude made sure his presence was felt during Game 4 of the NLCS in Chicago. In that game, he hit a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run double in the second to help the Mets clinch the pennant.
The 2015 season may not have ended in disaster for Duda, but on the way he proved himself to be a dangerous power hitter and an integral part of New York's lineup. As we look forward to 2016, that's what is most important.