Let's be honest. We all know, and have known for quite some time, that "Lucas Duda, outfielder" is not a long-term solution for the New York Mets.

The 6'4, 255-lb Duda was never truly meant to roam the spacious Citi Field outfield, but as a natural first baseman on a team that already has a good-gloved first baseman, the Mets don't exactly have a lot of options when it comes to finding ways to get Lucas Duda's bat in the lineup on a regular basis.

And that's just it. At the end of the day, the Mets are a much better team with Duda's bat in the lineup than without, and that's never been truer than it has been so far in the 2013 season, with Duda seeing the ball as well as he has been.

At of the time of this writing, Duda has a .239 batting average, which apparently seems to be the only number Duda detractors seem to care about. Never mind the .391 on-base percentage, or the .522 slugging percentage, both of which are among the league's best. Nothing is ever good enough for some people, and this is why we can't have nice things.

We all know Duda will always be a liability in the outfield. He's not an outfielder. This isn't news. Lamenting about Duda's defense without giving him credit for his offensive production is disingenuous and frankly ridiculous.

Duda is a Met. It's absolutely ludicrous that any Mets fans would be angry at a player on their team who has a .913 OPS, regardless of his obvious deficiencies on defense. Yet so many fans refuse to give Duda credit for his hot start.

The fact of the matter is, Lucas Duda's sporting a 155 OPS+ on May 9, and reading Twitter, you'd think Duda was crapping the bed worse than Ike Davis. It's as if many people have already long since made up their mind that they believed Duda was a bad player, and nothing he can do will change their mind.

Frankly, that's just sad. Lucas Duda isn't an All-Star, but he's been highly productive offensively on a team that doesn't have many highly productive offensive players. That is a good thing. Mets fans should be thankful for nice things, instead of trying to tear them down for no particular reason.

The most valid criticism of Duda's offense has been that he only has 11 RBI in 29 games, despite 7 home runs and that .522 SLG. But RBI are a product of, well, RBI opportunities, and Duda simply hasn't gotten all that many.

In fact, despite 115 total plate appearances on the year, Duda has only had 27 plate appearances (18 at-bats) with runners in scoring position. That's far too small of a sample size to glean any relevant information, good or bad.

The bottom line is that, while Duda is obviously far from perfect, he deserves a little more credit than many people have been willing to give him for his offensive production. At the very least, he can build up some trade value with a good season and enable the Mets to acquire someone who fits the team better.

So let's stop with this unrelenting bashing of one of the Mets' best offensive players (so far) this season. It's silly, it's petty and it's completely unnecessary. Let Lucas Duda be Lucas Duda. (And maybe bat him second in the batting order.)

 

Follow Jon Presser on Twitter @JonPresser and @TheSheaFaithful

 

 

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