The Mets acquired catcher Paul LoDuca from the Florida Marlins prior to the 2006 season. LoDuca had the unenvying task of replacing Mike Piazza, one of the franchise’s most popular players and considered by many to be the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. Though Met fans would never forget Piazza LoDuca made the transition easier and quickly became a fan favorite with his fiery attitude and hardnosed play. It also helped that he had a solid year at the plate and helped the Mets win the National League’s Eastern division.
Batting in the number two hole, LoDuca led the Mets in hitting in 2006 with a .318 average, good enough for 7th best in the National League. He hit 5 home runs with 49 RBIs while also hitting a career best 39 doubles. The Mets fans rewarded LoDuca for his solid play by electing him the starting catcher for the National League in the All-Star game.
LoDuca really endeared himself to Mets fans when he yelled at Alex Rodriguez during the subway series for showing up a Mets pitcher after hitting a home run in a blowout loss.
LoDuca caught all 10 of the Mets postseason games. In the NLDS against his former team the Los Angeles Dodgers, he hit .455 (5-11) and drove in 3 runs. But in the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals, LoDuca hit just .207 (6-29) but did drive in 3 runs. His never say die attitude was never more evident than in game 7 of the NLCS. With 2 outs in the 9th inning and the Mets trailing 3-1 LoDuca refused to give in and worked out a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, Carlos Beltran struck out and the Mets season suddenly ended.
LoDuca returned in 2007 but injuries limited his effectiveness. His average slipped to .272 though he did manage to hit 9 home runs and drive in 54 runs. He also recorded his 1000th career hit.
Following the season the Mets decided not to resign LoDuca and he left as a free agent and signed with the Washington Nationals. LoDuca struggled over the next two seasons with Washington and the Florida Marlins, justifying the Mets decision.
In his 2 seasons with the Mets LoDuca hit .297 with 14 home runs and 103 RBIs.
While with the Mets LoDuca wore number 16.
Paul LoDuca also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1998-2004
Florida Marlins – 2004,2005,2008
Washington Nationals – 2008