COMMENTARY | Lucas Duda has one more chance to show the New York Mets he deserves to be part of the future in Flushing. A strained oblique has effectively ended Ike Davis' 2013 season, and possibly his tenure with the Mets.
His injury has given Duda the opportunity to play first base every day, which he claims is his natural position. Since taking over following Davis' exit, Duda has slashed .348/.444/.565 with one home run and four RBIs in seven September games.
Here are four reasons why he needs to finish this month strong:
His future with the Mets hangs in the balance
In a recent interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, general manager Sandy Alderson said the front-office executives were already done with their evaluation of Duda. However, this opportunity would allow them one more chance to take a look at him.
In order to change any negative thoughts, Duda needs to go on a tear and show what the Mets could get if stays with the organization past this season. There are plenty of players auditioning for a job next season, and Duda is no different. The first-base position is currently up in the air, and a solid performance down the stretch could make things a little clearer.
Boosting his potential trade value
Sandy Alderson has said on multiple occasions the Mets will be active this winter. The expiring contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana give them flexibility to make a play for a major free agent. New York also plans to be active in trade talks, and it'll need to find players worthy to offer in any potential trade.
Alderson isn't keen on trading some of his pitchers for hitting. He'll need to find position players that look attractive enough to other teams in order to strike a deal. If Duda's bat comes alive over these final two weeks of the season, he could be included in a package to a team in need of a first baseman or a designated hitter.
Prove his days in the outfield are over
While he was playing with the Las Vegas 51s in Triple-A, Duda said he's not an outfielder. He feels he would be more productive in the big leagues as either a first baseman or designated hitter. Now is his best chance to prove that he should no longer be standing in the outfield grass.
He has a .241 batting average with 36 home runs, and 112 RBIs in 799 career at-bats as an outfielder. It's a small sample size, but he's hitting .312/.395/.484 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 186 career at-bats as a first baseman. Now that he has a chance to play there every day, we'll see if this is a coincidence or not.
Show he could be the power hitter the Mets need
Sandy Alderson will be looking for an outfielder with power this winter. Prior to 2013, New York was hoping Ike Davis would provide some pop in the middle of the order. He hit 32 home runs and collected 90 RBIs after a slow start in 2012. A year later, he finished 2013 with a .205/.326/.334 line with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. In addition to acquiring at least one outfielder, Alderson may have to find another first baseman.
Lucas Duda must show a glimpse of the 30-home run potential the Mets once thought he possessed. If he wants to stick around and be the starting first baseman for the New York Mets in 2014, he'll need to hit some homers and drive in runs when the opportunities arise.
Duda has his chance to prove himself. Now, it's up to him to show what he's capable of.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net. To keep up with Matt, you can follow him on Twitter.
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