The legacy of Lucas Duda as a Met

On Thursday, the Mets sent first basemen Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Drew Smith, a minor league relief pitcher. This being the first of what could be many moves made by the Mets as the trade deadline approaches in which the team will clearly be selling. Other players who could be traded include Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Addison Reed. But, Duda being traded, while not much of a surprise, still might hit fans harder than most trades, as he is a homegrown Met, playing 8 seasons with the team.

Drafted in the 7th round in 2007 by the Mets, Duda eventually made his MLB debut in 2010. When Duda first began in the MLB, he was playing right field, but a big guy with not much range, at times he struggled. That was until 2014, when the Mets pretty much held a first basemen competition between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Ike Davis was a player with a lot of potential, and came onto the scene out of nowhere in 2010, hitting 19 home runs and driving in 71 runs in his rookie season. In 2012, Davis notched 32 home runs. But, Davis never sustained his success after 2012, and he hit just 9 home runs in 2013, having a very disappointing season. While Davis was struggling, Duda continued to improve, and the Mets decided to convert Duda from an outfielder to a first basemen early in 2014, trading Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and pretty much saying Lucas Duda was their guy. The feeling was that Duda would be a great pro, if given the opportunity to be an everyday player. Some Mets fans including myself were unsure about this move, but this was the right move given where these two players are now in their career.

Appearing in 153 games in 2014, the same year the team traded Davis, Duda had a monster season, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92 runs. The Mets saw that this guy was a big time power bat. In this day and age when teams need a player in the middle of the lineup who’s always a threat to go deep, that guy for the Mets was Lucas Duda.

In 2015, Duda had another solid season, hitting 27 home runs with 73 RBI’s, and was one of the team’s leaders on their run to the World Series. Arguably Duda’s greatest moment as a Met came in this season, when the team had a chance to clinch the NL East. Taking on the Cincinnati Reds, Duda set the tone for the game in what was a magical season for the Mets, hitting a grand slam in the first inning, leading to a 10-2 Mets win, and more importantly, a division title. But, their 2015 playoff run ended in a horrible way, and I’m sure this play still Haunts Duda to this day. David Wright fielded a ground ball, and tossed it to Duda for the 2nd out of the 9th inning, in which the Mets were leading 2-1. But, after Ben Zobrist was out at first, Eric Hosmer broke for the plate. A good throw would have had Hosmer by a mile, but Duda sailed it over Travis d’Arnaud’s head, tying the game and leading to a Met loss that crowned the Kansas City World Series Champions, as they won the series 4 games to 1. But, if you blame the World Series loss only on Lucas Duda, you clearly didn’t watch the World Series.

In 2016, Duda struggled to stay healthy, appearing in just 47 games. But, in 2017, the Mets were going to be all in with World Series aspirations again coming off of 2 straight playoff appearances, and Lucas Duda was going to be a major part of it. But, as the team sits in the later days of the summer, it was time for them to deal Duda to a contender, as he did not appear to be apart of their future with one of the team’s top prospects Dominic Smith, waiting in the minor leagues to play first base.

Duda finished his Met career with 125 home runs, and was a key contributor to the team since 2012, even before he was the team’s first basemen. He’d been with the team through the good and bad times, and many people around the Mets make it sound like he was a reserved guy, more on the quiet side. But, a silent leader, who wanted to win.

Lucas Duda is one of the best Mets home run hitters of all time, and an under appreciated player. I think Duda is the kind of player that fans and the organization won’t know what they had until now that he’s gone. Kind of like a guy by the name of Daniel Murphy, but let’s not get into that.

Duda had this to say about his future replacement Dominic Smith during his farewell interview according to the New York Post. “I think he’s going to be good, and I hope he turns out to be a 10-year All-Star.” This just shows how much of a class act Duda was with the Mets, and there’s nothing but respect between to the two sides. As Duda continues his career at age 31, I’m sure the Mets will always have a special place in his heart, and I can tell you he will be missed.

All Stats via Baseball Reference.

Here’s a personal story about Lucas Duda, and my number 1 memory of his tenure as a Met:

I was a freshmen at Hofstra University back in 2015, the same year the Mets made it to the World Series. I was on my way home from a night class, in which we were allowed to leave early to watch the Mets game 4 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, a series the Mets led 3 games to none, hoping to clinch. While I’m driving home on Hempstead Turnpike, I had the game on the radio listening to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin, 2 of the best. I happened to be at a red light, and could feel like I was watching the game, even though I was just listening. I knew the situation, Duda was up in the 1st inning, with runners on first and second. The count was full with 2 outs, and I could hear the excitement in the announcers voices, as Duda set the tone early in this one, hitting a 3 run home run. I did a fist pump, and was yelling in joy in my car, while people had to be looking at me thinking “why is this guy so pumped up driving home on a cold, October Wednesday night?” What a happy drive home this was for me, a car ride that takes about 20 minutes. It was right in my car that I realized this Mets team was going to go the World Series, and they’ll have a real chance to win it all. The Mets of course, went on to win this game 8-3, sweeping the Cubs in the NLCS, but fell short in the World Series.  This is one of those sports moments that I will never forget, and also one of the greatest moments of my fandom of any team between the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Thank you, Lucas Duda.

 

 

 

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