Every year there is one player who is the key to a successful season. Last year I said it was Johan Santana, and I was pretty much proven correct — the Mets fortunes began to wane at the same time as Santana’s health. This year, I believe that player is Lucas Duda. Cue groans here.
When it comes to all of the Mets deficiencies, the lack of power is one that stands out and has not been addressed at all during the off season. There is David Wright and Ike Davis, and that is all. The Mets cannot contend with just two players who hit for power, especially when their lineup is so weak elsewhere; Ruben Tejada has no power, the two other outfield spots will likely give the team nothing, Daniel Murphy is not a home run hitter, and John Buck is just a placeholder for Travis d’Arnaud, and who knows when we’ll see him and what he will offer.
That’s why Lucas Duda has to come through if the Mets have any hope of being a winning team. Duda has to be the player who came up in 2011 and hit . 292 with 10 home runs in a little more than half a season, and not the guy who managed 15 home runs and just a .239 batting average in 2012 and had to be sent back to the minors for a while.
If Duda is the 2012 version of himself, that leaves a huge hole in the lineup. Why would anybody pitch to Ike Davis with a weak-hitting Duda behind him?
Lucas Duda has to hit to give the lineup more depth. He also needs to hit to make up for what is sure to be poor outfield play. Duda is moving to Citi Field’s less spacious left field for this season, but still, based on his 2012 adventures in the field, nothing much should be expected of him. Instead of getting better and more comfortable throughout the season, Duda actually looked worse in right field in September as opposed to April.
Can Lucas Duda do it? The front office seems convinced that he can. He must in order for the Mets to have any success in 2013.