2016 Fantasy Baseball: What’s Wrong with Lucas Duda? (Hint: Nothing)
I think there’s one smart way to approach first base this year, and that’s to draft one of the top seven hitters at the position within the first three rounds. The power, average and speed that those top guys offer is close to being unequaled. So after you roster one of the top seven, or if you’re unable to, there’s a very good hitter down the first-base rankings to fill your utility spot or be a pretty good consolation prize as your first baseman. Let’s look at some blind resumes from the last two seasons with 2016 NFBC average draft position included.
Player A: 57 home runs, 141 runs, 165 RBI, .235 Iso, 135 wRC+ , 148 ADP
Player B: 36 home runs, 155 runs, 144 RBI, .182 Iso, 137 wRC+, 83 ADP
Player C: 27 home runs, 152 runs, 151 RBI, .146 Iso, 113 wRC+, 69 ADP
Player A is Lucas Duda, whose 57 homers rank seventh at the position over the last two seasons. Player B is Freddie Freeman, and Player C is Eric Hosmer. I do like both Freeman and Hosmer, but there’s no reason you should be paying up for Hosmer when you can get Duda 70 picks later. If you’re not going to spend a premium pick on a first baseman, I wouldn’t waste a pick on a mid-tier first baseman unless it’s Duda. If you pick a Hosmer that early you’re wasting a shot at a lot of good values and higher-upside plays at other positions. Most likely you’re not going to get a 30-homer threat around pick 150 at any other position.
Yes, Duda’s the oldest of this trio, but he’s also produced the most over what he can control, in my opinion. Hosmer’s best power output was his 19-homer rookie season five years ago, and Freeman hasn’t ever hit over 23 home runs despite some huge plate appearance totals.
Duda had 30 homers two years ago and 27 last year, so we know he’s a power threat. But this isn’t a two-year thing. He’s raised his Iso each of the last three seasons, from .150 in 2011 to .192, .228 and .242 last year. He played in an average of 110 games in 2012 and ’13, so if you count up all those numbers from his past four seasons and pro-rate them over a 162-game season he averages 28 home runs a season.
The Mets moved in the fences at Citi Field a couple years ago, and Duda couldn’t have asked for a better gift. He had a 1.000 OPS at home last season, and his yearly home Isos since 2011 make a hill you wouldn’t want to ride a bike up: .134, .157, .195, .235, .336.
Whether you believe in Duda or not there’s no doubting his power, and his 11 percent walk rate is a boon for those in leagues that count OBP. No matter what your stance is on first base this year you should try to roster Duda at his discounted price.