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Player Profile: Lucas Duda

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Can the gentle giant repeat his 30 HR performance?

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Lucas Duda whomped 30 homers last year, and he is nowhere near being a superstar yet.  This probably has to do with two things, first is that a Lucas Duda interview is painful, and two Lucas Duda hasn't done much of anything else besides have a good power stroke.  So lets delve into what we should expect next season.  Below I've pasted his 2015 Steamer projections.

Season

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

2015

146

621

24

69

75

3

Season

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

2015

0.277

0.234

0.333

0.419

0.361

136

Now while his 146 game projection seems like a healthy number, his injury history on CBS sports is totally blank.  So this number not being 155+ is a product of one of two things in my opinion.

1.     They are using an unbiased formula which takes his missed games from years past into account, which were a result of the Mets praying that Ike Davis would turn into something at Duda's expense

2.     They noticed Duda's L/R splits, and assumed he'll miss games because of it.

Last season, I owned Duda from June until the end of the year, in those 4 months he hit 23 home runs, and evenly spread his production out month by month.  Between 4-7 home runs per month, 16-19RBI a month, 10-17 R, and had between 22-24 hits a month, resulting in a smooth 260 avg during my ownership. It was wonderful, I was plugging him in everyday and he was producing at a perfectly level rate.  But since hindsight is always 20/20, should I have done that?  Here are Duda's lefty righty splits from last season.

Season

Handedness

AB

HR

R

RBI

AVG

2014

vs L

111

2

2

10

0.180

2014

vs R

403

28

28

82

0.273

Looking back, I shouldn't have let this guy sniff my lineup against lefties.  He was OPSing over 900 vs R, and close to 500 against L.  Over his career it isn't much different, with him posting an .847 vs R, and .610 vs L.  C'mon Lucas, pick it up against those southpaws!

Courtesy of Hardballtimes.com

When I looked at his batted ball profile, he posted percentages that were very close to his career numbers, and the only thing I noticed was that his HR/FB% bounced up to a career high 16%, which isn't a crazy number, but he was typically under 14%.  This led me to check one of my favorite resources, the HR and FB distance leaderboards.  In 2013 Duda had a respectable 284.58 ft average distance, good for 122nd in the MLB.  But last year he jumped that to 297.9 ft, which positioned him at 22nd overall.  So what can we learn from data like this?  That for the most part Duda needs to play to be good.  This isn't world shaking news, many players like to play to keep a rhythm, and Lucas fits the mold.  While writing this I looked at spray charts, I read charts of where he hits balls, and it became more and more obvious after I read more and more data about the guy, he needs to play.  Duda is a behemoth (6'4" 255lb) who hammers baseballs.  He's been hitting baseballs hard to all fields for years now, and playing time was really the solution to the problems he had in the past.  He's going to walk in roughly 11% of his PA's (he's done so the last 3 years), his K rate will be in the low 20's (22.7% last year).  He's going to get his hits, and he'll give you 25+ HRs.

Courtesy of collectthemets.com

I've never given out one of my projections in one of my pieces since I'm still so new at it, but Duda is a perfect guy for me to try this out for the first time.  Next season Duda is going to hit 29HR, 1SB (consider this a gift from me Lucas), and a 250 avg assuming they keep letting him hit against lefties, otherwise expect it to go up.  So next season, enjoy the steady production from a late pick 1B like Lucas, because quite frankly, anyone that has the wisdom to bunt against the shift is bound for greatness.

Courtesy of ESPNGrantland.com