Found February 26, 2012 on Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest:

Lucas Duda isn’t Albert Pujols, not yet. But I am sure Mets fans could only dream that he will be 75% as good as Pujols. As Michael Salfino wrote at the Wall Street Journal, “Duda’s second-half rookie surge puts him in the company of MVPs Albert PujolsRyan HowardJoey Votto and Ryan Braun plus perennial All-Stars Mike Piazza and Todd Helton….  The Mets outfielder had an on-base plus slugging percentage of .957  in 205 at bats after the All-Star Break. That’s 100 percentage points better than what David Wright posted in the second half of his 2004 rookie season and it’s the 11th best among all rookies since 1990 (minimum 200 at bats).”

Duda’s total second half numbers were:

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS 2nd Half 64 56 242 205 30 66 14 1 10 38 27 39 .322 .411 .546 .957 Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/26/2012.

Our good friends at Baseball Think Factory used advanced metrics to also put his performance in perspective when you rank his season versus the all-time best offensive seasons in Mets history for players 25 years of age and under:

Best years by War Batting Runs, by Mets 25 and under:
Darryl Strawberry 51 1987
David Wright 50 2007
David Wright 43 2008
David Wright 35 2005
Darryl Strawberry 33 1985
6 David Wright 32 2006
Lee Mazzilli 31 1979
Darryl Strawberry 28 1986
Edgardo Alfonzo 27 1997
10 Edgardo Alfonzo 25 1999
11 Lee Mazzilli 25 1980
12 Lenny Dykstra 22 1986
13 Lee Mazzilli 20 1978
14 Jose Reyes 19 2008
15 Darryl Strawberry 19 1983
16 Steve Henderson 19 1977
17 Cleon Jones 18 1968
18 Lucas Duda 16 2011
19 Jose Reyes 16 2006
20 Gregg Jefferies 16 1990
21 Darryl Strawberry 16 1984

Here are all Met seasons, 25 and under, ranked by OPS+ (25 and under)

1 Darryl Strawberry 164 470
2 Darryl Strawberry 162 640
3 David Wright 149 711
David Wright 141 735
David Wright 139 657
Darryl Strawberry 139 562
Cleon Jones 137 552
8 Lucas Duda 136 347
Lee Mazzilli 135 693
10 Darryl Strawberry 134 473

There is a lot to be concerned about when it comes to the 2012 Mets. Depth, particularly starting pitching, is an issue. If this team faces the “Black Plaque” of injuries they suffered in 2009 (20 of 25 members of the roster spent time on the DL), then this could get 1993-type ugly.

The baseball gods are tough but fair, and I suspect the last five years of suffering has garnered good will for the organization. I caution, however, banking on that since it was nearly a decade of foul ups till the basketball gods bestowed Jeremy Lin on the Knicks.

In all seriousness, there are enough reasons to believe Duda’s process is sustainable. In the minors, Duda’s OBP was .398. He was a top hitter at every level, but the problem has been position and defense. He is blocked at first base (Ike Davis), his best position. He also has yet to show he is a competent everyday corner outfielder. The concern is you have an elite hitter that plays a position already filled or, worse yet, a DH in the wrong league.

In the end, the best case scenario would be Jason Bay tearing the cover off the ball for a half a season, trading him in July, and giving Duda the everyday job in left field – a position that he might be best suited to play.

Whether you watched Duda play or look at the advanced stats, there is plenty of reason to believe the Mets may have not found their version of Jeremy Lin, but they certainly have a productive offensive player they didn’t count on just a year ago.

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