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2016 Mets season preview: Lucas Duda

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Lucas Duda is good and will likely continue to be good in 2016.

John Sommers II/Getty Images

This should be pretty cut and dry but for some reason it isn't, so let me lay down the definitive truth for all who question it: Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is good. Other descriptors of Lucas Duda tend to include "lack of confidence", "shy", and the suddenly popular "inconsistent", which came into vogue after Duda's June struggles. Maybe those words apply in some fashion but there's one word that sums up Duda's two seasons as the Mets' starting first baseman: Good.

With that out of the way now, let's explore just how good Lucas Duda has been the past two years. Combined, Duda has hit .249/.350/.483 with 60 doubles and 57 home runs. What Duda lacks in batting average, he makes up for in on base percentage and power, both areas in which he's well above average. In fact, among MLB first baseman over these past two years, Duda's 57 home runs rank seventh behind Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, and Chris Carter. Further, among that group of players, Duda has the second fewest number of plate appearances at 1150 (Pujols leads the group at 1356, Rizzo second at 1317, Carter is last at 1032). His 6.3 fWAR over two years is 10th among MLB first baseman.

Where does that leave Duda heading into 2016? Duda should provide plenty of left handed power in the middle of the Mets' lineup. His tremendous gains against lefties in 2015 were a very positive development, as he hit .285/.333/.545 with 7 home runs. If Duda can keep that work up against the southpaws and bounce back to 2014 levels against righties, when he hit .273/.372/.543, Duda would be in for an excellent season. As it stands, the conservative Steamer has Duda hitting .238/.340/.435 with 23 home runs. That would be worth 1.9 WAR. The Fans, meanwhile, see Duda posting a .251/.352/.475 line with 27 home runs, essentially a carbon copy of 2014 and 2015.

Make no mistake, Duda hasn't been among the elite first basemen these two years, the level of Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, a healthy Joey Votto or "not 2014" Chris Davis. But he likely fits somewhere at the back end of the top ten, maybe low teens among first basemen. That's not a star but that's a valuable asset, especially one with 30 home run power. Any small improvement in Duda's ability to make contact and/or avoiding a slump to the level of June and early July, and Duda could surpass his production of the past two years. Having just turned 30 years old, Duda's still right in his prime. He is good and maybe with help from a full year of Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup or more work with Kevin Long in the batting cage, he'll be more than that.