SleepersAugust 7, 2011

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Sleeper Watch

By Josh Shepardson

Carlos Beltran being dealt from the Mets to the Giants has opened the door for everyday at bats to Lucas Duda. The rest of the year will be an opportunity for him prove his worth, and he’s off to a solid start. There may be better yet to come as well.

Duda had a tremendous season in Double-A and Triple-A in 2010, which resulted in a cup of coffee (92 plate appearances) for the parent club. It was a bit of a mixed bag in the show as he sported a solid .214 ISO smacking four home runs, but he hit just .202 with a below league average walk rate and above league average strikeout rate. This season saw him rip the cover off the ball in a return to Triple-A where he also added to his already strong walk rate and cut down on his strikeouts. He earned yet another call-up to the Mets, and has performed better than when he got his feet wet last year.

This year in the majors he is walking more frequently, and has shaved over 10 percent off of his strikeout rate (13.6 percent strikeout rate in 2011), bringing it almost five percent below league average. That mark is fairly impressive for a guy with power and the ability to draw ball fours. Duda is squaring the ball up regularly hitting line drives 23.3 percent of the time, thus his .286 BABIP seems a bit unlucky and lends hope for a higher average than his current .264 batting average. In addition to an increase in average going forward, his 5.9 percent home run-per-fly ball rate (HR/FB) which is a low rate for a player who displayed above average power in the high minors, suggests more home runs may be on the way too. For those wondering, the low HR/FB rate shouldn’t be blamed on his home digs as Citi Field hasn’t suppressed home runs as much as its reputation would lead one to believe. Even using Bill James park index information for last season and the 2009-2010 seasons combined, Citi Field is much less forgiving on right-handed home run production than left-handed. All-in-all, Duda should see more of his fly balls leave the yard than he is at this point in time.

Owners hoping too add some punch to their fantasy lineups will be pleased to know Duda is available in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He doesn’t offer quite enough to appeal to those in shallow mixed-leagues, and he isn’t a great fit for all in medium sized mixed-leagues either, but he is a viable option in large mixed-leagues and NL-only formats.

Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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