MIAMI -- Mike Stanton, the Marlins' scary-strong rightfielder, owns the longest home runs in three major-league ballparks this season, according to hittrackeronline.com. Stanton has a 474-foot blast at Coors Field, a 465-footer at Citi Field and a 455-footer at Nationals Park.
What Stanton doesn't have is bragging rights in his own backyard. With only eight baseball games remaining in the history of Sun Life Stadium, Lucas Duda is the long-ball king of South Florida this season, thanks to his 447-foot skyscraper off Leo Nunez back on July 23.
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When told of the title, Duda -- in typical Duda fashion -- shrugged. But he did allow himself a fleeting smile. "That's a pretty cool thing," Duda said.
As soon as the moment passed, however, Duda switched back into aw-shucks mode, which is the default position for the Mets' ultra low-key rightfielder.
But c'mon, Mike Stanton?
At 6-4, 255 pounds, Duda is no slouch, either, and Ike Davis was asked how he generates that type of power. Could it be the mechanics of his lethal left-handed swing?
"Have you looked at the guy?" Davis said.
The hulking Duda had a quiet night Tuesday, but Nick Evans came up big with three RBIs, including the game-winner on a one-out single in the 12th inning. Earlier, Evans had put the Mets ahead twice in this game, but Bobby Parnell squandered a 4-2 lead in the ninth for his fourth blown save in nine chances.
The way the unassuming Duda blends into the background, he's easy to miss -- until he steps into the batter's box, where the transformation has been dramatic since that tape-measure homer off Nuñez. Heading into that pinch-hit spot, Duda had not homered in his previous 132 plate appearances this season.
But that unlocked something for Duda, who has eight homers since that night and even went deep again off Nuñez a week later at Citi Field.
"I think when you first come in, you try to do too much to impress people, overswing and stuff like that," Duda said. "Once that happened, and I got the opportunity to play every day, that's when I started to relax, be myself and go from there."
Terry Collins has noticed the difference. After wondering aloud for weeks when Duda might actually "run into one" before his first homer, the manager now recognizes him as his most dangerous long-ball threat -- short of the injured Davis. That's because Duda finally developed the attitude to complement his strength. "He's determined now," Collins said. "When he gets in the batter's box, early in the count, he's going to try and hit a home run. He's thinking, I'm going to get a pitch and I'm going to hit it out."
Once Duda does make contact, there are basic rules of physics that help explain why his homers travel so far. That extended, high-arcing loft is partly due to the natural backspin caused by his swing.
"We're both big guys, we have long arms," Davis said. "If you're in the big leagues, you probably have a decent swing. But a lot of it is backspin. I think the majority of mine, when I do hit them to centerfield or right-center, it's because they have good backspin. That's why it goes farther."
Duda has shown exclusively pull power, but Collins believes he has the ability to go deep to the opposite field. He just hasn't matured enough as a hitter yet. Once Duda aggressively attacks the outside half of the plate, he'll be that much more dangerous.
"He's kind of gotten away from left-center," Collins said. "But those kind of guys -- just like Stanton -- if they just hit the ball, it should go out. Those should be home runs."
On Sunday, Duda crouched down to smack a 79-mph changeup from Livan Hernandez that came in about knee-high. That drive traveled 442 feet into the second deck in right-centerfield, long enough to crack the top five of the 134 homers hit at Nationals Park this season. "If it goes a foot over or 100 feet over, it doesn't matter to me," Duda said. "It counts the same."