Originally posted on MetsZilla  |  Last updated 3/13/12

A day after hitting a grand slam against the Detroit Tigers, Lucas Duda drove in the lone run for the New York Mets as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 7-1.  Mike Pelfrey was rocked once again and as the injuries pile up for the Mets, there’s just not a lot for fans to get excited about.  Except of course for Lucas Duda.

Anyone who checked the second half stats for last year knew there was reason for optimism as The Big Ox entered his second full season with New York.  Duda belted 10 homers in just 205 post all-star break AB’s and his .322 batting average and .411 OBP after the break put him in some rather impressive company:

If numbers alone don’t get your juices flowing, then hearing what the 26-year-old’s peers have to say about him may do the trick.  Earlier this month, while appearing on the Mike Francesa show on WFAN, New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis said the following about the team’s starting right fielder for 2012:

Who knows what [Lucas Duda] can do. Honestly, I have been watching Duda for the last couple of years and he’s gonna be an all-star at some point. I know it. I’ve always been extremely high on Duda.  If you look in the archives a couple years ago I said he is a better hitter than I am. And, I truly meant that. I think he’s gonna be a star.”

This afternoon, while in town to play the Mets at Port St. Lucie, former Mets all-star Carlos Beltran told reporters Lucas has the talent to be a ‘great player,’ and he will continue to get better by playing every day:

Photo by Michael G. Baron

I think he’s gonna be a great great player for the Mets. I think he has the potential to go out there and compete and put [up] good numbers.  He has the power, he has the talent.  It all depends on him and how he approaches the whole year of playing in the big leagues and making adjustments. But, I think they have good group of people there, good coaches and they are gonna take care of him. … I think [his confidence] is going to continue to get better once you go out there and continue to play everyday.  When you get a shot to play everyday, you need to get confidence in yourself.  But, when you come from the bench and maybe get an at-bat or two a game or two games in a week, it’s hard to get confident.  But, I think he will be fine.”

In both 2010 and 2011 Duda got off to slow starts, but as he got more comfortable and his playing time steadied, the results followed.

Photo by Michael G. Baron

This year he is locked into the starting lineup and that assurance alone can go a long way towards helping him feel comfortable right out of the gates.  If this Spring is any indication, then there’s a good chance Lucas will hit the ground running, or maybe stampeding is a better word?  Either way, Mets fans will have to hope that #21 can remain confident and a little early production should help in that department.

I think both Duda and Daniel Murphy could be poised for big seasons at the plate and if both David Wright and Ike Davis are healthy then the middle of the Mets line-up should give them a chance to lead the NL East in runs scored for the second straight season.

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