NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda entered Sunday's play leading the National League in OPS, the statistic that perhaps best encapsulates a power hitter's value. So it was only natural that in his daily staff meeting, manager Terry Collins considered moving Duda from sixth to fourth in the starting lineup.
Ultimately, the move never happened. Wary of affecting Duda's mindset, Collins opted to keep Duda sixth and Ike Davis cleanup, despite the latter's season-long slump.
"This game is about confidence," Collins said. "Lucas Duda is feeling pretty good. I don't want to change that. One thing I don't want to do right now is put him in a situation where he thinks he's got to do more than he's doing at this particular moment."
What Duda is doing is precisely what the Mets hoped when they named him a full-time outfield starter. Entering Sunday's play with a league-best 1.199 OPS, Duda also ranked third in the NL in on-base percentage, third in slugging and tied for ninth in home runs, with more walks (14) than strikeouts (12).
Compare that to Davis, who was hitting .161 with a .575 OPS, despite batting exclusively cleanup against right-handed pitchers. Davis' two-homer game Friday apparently did not spark him, as he finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts the following afternoon. More than a quarter of his plate appearances have ended in strikeouts.
But despite the stark contrast between Davis and Duda, Collins was unwilling to make a swap.
"If you start juggling your lineup all around, when these guys come to the ballpark they don't know where they're at," the manager said. "I'm feeling pretty good where Lucas is in the lineup, so I just want to leave him there.
"A lot of it has to do with the fact that this guy's confidence is pretty high right now. He's feeling good. I don't want him to all of the sudden be slapped in the four spot and have an 0-fer and think he's hurt the club. I just want to leave him where he's at."