Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 9, 2006
BASEBALL: Caution on Lo Duca

A lot of Mets fans have been won over by Paul Lo Duca, and I can certainly appreciate after wathing him why people love the guy - he's a gritty player with quite a knack for big hits (and looks like the Met most likely to play a henchman on The Sopranos). And given that he's a few years younger than Mike Piazza, he may still end up giving the Mets more production over the long haul, though for now Piazza - playing in baseball's toughest pitcher's park for about a third of Lo Duca's salary - is batting .272/.483/.335 compared to .286/.401/.330 for Lo Duca. (Plus, Lo Duca isn't really much of an improvement over Piazza in terms of throwing arm or foot speed).

Anyway, what fans need to remember about Lo Duca is that June's batting line is unlikely to be where he finishes. Consider something every Rotisserie player knows - Lo Duca is baseball's most notorious second-half fader, as shown by his before/after All-Star Break splits for his five full seasons as a regular and his career:

Year1st Avg1st Slg1st OBP2d Avg2d Slg2d OBPOPS Chg
2001.346.615.384.298.486.366-15%
2002.326.458.384.233.341.268-28%
2003.307.438.374.226.293.282-29%
2004.313.461.355.251.368.317-16%
2005.286.375.338.279.388.3280
2006.286.401.330
Total.306.447.359.257.375.312-15%

As you can see, last year was the first time Lo Duca didn't have a dramatic falloff in the second half. It was also, perhaps not coincidentally, a career low in at bats (445, first season below 535 since his rookie year). Randolph has ridden Lo Duca very hard thus far, not giving him a lot of rest - a pace for over 520 at bats at last count, even though Ramon Castro is a perfectly adequate backup, a better defensive player than Lo Duca and not much of a falloff with the bat. I hope Randolph starts to get him some rest soon.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:08 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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