The Royals signed Lucas Duda to a one-year deal to be their first baseman or designated hitter. After losing out to the Padres for Eric Hosmer’s services, Duda is a cheaper and still talented consolation prize.
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Duda slugged 30 home runs in 491 plate appearances last season. While the home runs were nice, he batted only .217, which was hampered by a career-high 31% strikeout rate. While his batting average was below his career .242 mark, he offset the low batting average with 12.2% walk rate, which led to a .322 OBP. He’s definitely more valuable in fantasy leagues that count walks. While Kauffman Stadium is not the most home run-friendly home park, he had no trouble hitting home runs at Citi Field and Tropicana Field, neither of which is great for homers. He’s a true three-outcome player.
Duda’s value jumps with this signing. While the Royals offense will be well below league average, he likely hit in the middle of the lineup. Before the Duda signing, Hunter Dozier was slotted in at first base for the Royals, with Jorge Soler likely serving as the designated hitter. Dozier and Soler haven’t established themselves as everyday regulars, so I could see Dozier (who is likely the best defender) playing first, with Duda serving as the designated hitter. Duda could also see time at first with Soler at DH. Either way, I see Duda playing every day unless he really struggles.
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