Metrics say Lucas Duda hits hard; now all he needs is confidence

Mets' Lucas Duda, center, celebrates his home run Mets' Lucas Duda, center, celebrates his home run with teammates during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Jae C. Hong

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DENVER - Lucas Duda hit the longest homer at Citi Field this season, a majestic shot that sailed toward the faraway Shea Bridge.

Like most events that unfold on a baseball field, the home run was measured precisely, categorized and archived for future reference. The record shows that the pitch was a sinker that didn't sink, an 89-mph mistake that traveled 431 feet.

Yet even in this age of information, much of it remains shielded from public view. And in the case of Duda, this hidden data may provide the best explanation of why he's been given the chance to thrive as the Mets' first baseman.

"In some other measurements that we have, we felt that there was an edge there," general manager Sandy Alderson said.

For Duda, that edge involves his freakish knack for making hard contact.

According to metrics used internally by the Mets, the ball that Duda hit for his towering home run left the barrel of his bat at 109 mph. It's one of the fastest readings recorded this season.

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Based on those same measures, Duda has ranked among the best in the game when it comes to the velocity of the ball off his bat, known as "exit speed."

That evidence proved compelling enough for the Mets to defy convention.

Ike Davis once hit 32 homers in a single season. And despite his recent struggles, some within the organization were hesitant to cut ties with him, a nod to his track record.

Duda, on the other hand, has never hit more than 15 homers in a season.