Duda's defense: Not so bad after all

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda said that the game-ending double play he initiated Monday in the Subway Series opener against the Yankees was a lucky play.

But there’s at least a little something to be said for Duda’s defense as well.

2014 Defensive Runs Saved Totals
Notable Mets

Defensive metrics tell you little about what will happen, when you look at them in small samples, but they are reflective of what did happen within that time frame. So far, Duda’s defensive stats aren’t that bad.

As we noted a few days ago, the Mets' infield rates among the worst in the majors at converting ground balls into outs (71 percent rate, fourth-worst) and at turning double plays (tied for worst).

But that hasn’t been Duda’s doing. Through a little more than a month’s worth of games, he leads Mets infielders with two defensive runs saved.

Perhaps that’s damning him with faint praise, but let’s also consider some more comprehensive observational data.

Baseball Info Solutions, which does video tracking for major league teams and media, categorizes defensive plays into about 30 categories of good fielding plays and 60 categories of defensive misplays and errors (let’s call them “mistakes”).

The average first baseman this year has a ratio of good fielding plays to mistakes of about 2 to 1.

After making a nice catch on a line drive by Brett Gardner and turning the game-ending double play, Duda rates above that threshold with 14 good fielding plays and 5 mistakes. For reference, former Mets first baseman Ike Davis has a 10-to-4 ratio this season.

One thing that we didn’t see in yesterday’s game was Duda’s handling of off-line or dirt-hitting throws from his infielders. He has totaled 10 good fielding plays for those this season (BIS refers to those as “scoops”).

Duda’s rate of innings played per scoop currently rates third-best in the majors.

This is a major turnaround for Duda, whose play in the outfield the past three seasons made most watchers very uncomfortable.

His minus-41 defensive runs saved in the outfield from 2011 to 2013 ranked second-worst in the majors.

But at least for now, he’s been adequate, and a bump from awful to adequate can make a big difference for the Mets.