The Mets have both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on their roster as first base options. Being that they are both left-handed hitters and the Mets are in the National League, it seems all but certain that one of the two will get traded this offseason.
This will be an interesting decision for the Mets to make. They could decide to stick with the more proven Davis, or give Duda a real chance to be the starting first baseman. The Mets, though, should go for proven talent instead of raw potential.
Here are five reasons why the Mets should trade Lucas Duda instead of Ike Davis.
Baseball statistics are courtesy of BaseballReference.com
Between Davis and Duda, Davis clearly has the better track record of success in his career. As a rookie, Davis batted .264, with 19 home runs and 71 RBI. In 2011, he was batting .302, with seven home runs and 25 RBI before suffering an ankle injury that ended up costing him the rest of the season. After a slow start in 2012, Davis had a great second half to give him 32 home runs and 90 RBI for the season, while batting .227.
In 2013, the Mets were hoping to see a more consistent season from Davis. Instead, he got off to another slow start before getting demoted in June for a little more than a month. After coming back up to the Mets, Davis did not particularly do better. Nonetheless, 2012 showed that Davis can be very productive if he is on a hot streak, and that is certainly more than anything Duda has done to this point.
Despite being older than Davis, Lucas Duda has not been an everyday starter for a full major league season yet.
Duda made his major league debut in September of 2010 as a late season call-up. In 2011, Duda got some playing time at first base after Davis' injury and split time in right field as well. He hit .292 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI that season.
A year later, Duda hit .239 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI and was the Mets' starting right fielder until getting demoted in late July for about a month. After being brought back up, Duda played in left field and filled in occasionally at first base.
In 2013, Duda began the season as the regular left fielder, but a rib injury sidelined him for a while and the arrival of Eric Young Jr. pretty much ended his time as a left fielder. After being activated from the disabled list, Duda was in the minor leagues for a few weeks before getting recalled back up to the Mets. Ironically, shortly after his return, Davis suffered a season-ending oblique injury, which led to Duda being the regular first baseman for the remainder of the season.
All in all, Duda simply has not had a full season to really prove himself at the major league level. The power potential is there, but 15 home runs per season will not be enough to satisfy all the Mets fans. A player with Duda's size and power potential should be able to hit 25-30 home runs per season. If the Mets were to give Duda an everyday opportunity at first base, he may be able to really prove himself. But until then, Duda will not have too much going for him in regard to proven success.
Home runs are what many people may expect from a position such as first base, but despite being such an offensively valued position, defense at first base can be significant as well. Good defense at first base can turn errant throws from hits and errors into outs. In other words, defense at first base should never be overlooked and this is one area that Davis definitely has an advantage in over Duda.
Through his career thus far, Davis has a .993 fielding percentage and has 27 total errors in four seasons. The 6'4" Davis also has very good range at the position and has been known to make the occasional spectacular over-the-rail catch.
In a small 83-game sample size, Duda's career fielding percentage at first base is .995 and he has only three errors at the position. These numbers may sound better than that of Davis. However, because it is a noticeably smaller sample size, Duda should still not be considered as reliable defensively.
The Mets know what they will get from Davis defensively and he has shown numerous times why he should be considered an above-average defender at first base. Duda would probably be better suited as a designated hitter in the American League. The Mets of course are in the National League, which does not have the designated hitter rule.
The fact that Duda has major league experience in both left field and right field could make him a more valuable trade chip, as would his lower salary.
If Duda were to get traded, it would not necessarily be as a first baseman for sure. He could become a designated hitter or a utility first baseman and corner outfielder in a backup role. If Davis on the other hand were to get traded, he would almost certainly become the starting first baseman of the team he gets dealt to.
This is not to say that no other teams out there need a first base upgrade. In fact, the Mets have already been in talks with the Brewers, who are in need of an upgrade at first base, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. However, nothing significant progressed in those discussions. Nonetheless, if he gets traded, Duda could be used by another team in multiple ways, while Davis would simply become another team's next starting first baseman.
One reason the Mets could decide to move Davis instead of Duda is because Davis will be making more money between the two.
This past season, Davis earned over $3 million, while Duda earned a little more than $500,000. The Mets may feel that saving payroll for what they may consider similar production at a particular position could be smart, but the fact that Davis has had a more successful career thus far should definitely be taken into account.
Furthermore, the Mets have stated that they will be able to manage a higher payroll than in the previous few seasons. The fact that the Johan Santana contract is now off the books is a big reason why the greater amount of flexibility is now possible.
The Mets have a number of holes to fill in such as shortstop, left field, right field, the back end of the pitching rotation and the bullpen. Despite having a logjam at first base, the Mets should not overlook it at all. If keeping Davis at first base will end up costing more money, then the Mets should pay him, if that means he will be a more productive first baseman than Duda.