Dominic Smith Proving Himself This Spring
With a -1.8 WAR and 79 wRC+ through his first 105 games at the Major League level, the building consensus has been Dominic Smith was a first round bust putting him in a ground of renown Mets bust. Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Alex Ochoa, Fernando Martinez, Bill Pulsipher. The list goes on and on.
It is a large reason why Pete Alonso has surpassed him on the depth charts heading into Spring Training. Truth be told, it probably happened some time prior to that. After all, while Alonso was becoming the first ever Mets minor leaguer to lead the minors in home runs, Smith was having a nightmare season.
The narrative had become he was lazy. He contributed to that by struggling to keep in shape. He would be late for the first Spring Training game last year, one he was slated to start. He didn’t hit well with the Mets, and he didn’t hit well in Las Vegas. To hear many tell it, he was a lazy player and his laziness had led him to be a bust.
Lost in that narrative was the fact Smith was still just 23 years old, a little more than six months younger than Alonso. Really lost in all of that was the fact Alonso was not lazy. Rather, he was just young and trying to find his way.
As Smith would tell Kyle Glasser of Baseball America, he used his time in the majors well. He watched players like Bryce Harper play, and he learned he needed to make changes. That meant not just losing weight but also getting into shape. He wanted to be an athlete first and a baseball player second. He also needed to make his swing more mechanically sound.
Smith has also learned the importance of sleep in his routine. He has refitted his sleep apnea mask.
Seeing Smith report to Spring Training detailing his diet, workout routine, and the importance of sleep, you are seeing a much more mature person. As a result, you are also seeing a better baseball player, the player the Mets believed him to be when they drafted him in the first round (11th overall) of the 2013 draft. Right now, you are seeing the best hitter in baseball.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) March 3, 2019
As noted by Mathew Brownstein of MMO, Smith is the leading hitter in the majors this Spring with a .500 OBP and .579 OBP. Overall, he is 8-for-16 with three walks, a homer, and five RBI.
Looking at it, Smith is a much different player than he was last year. Remember, last year, Mickey Callaway said of Smith, “I think we had expectations for guys, and if they don’t meet that expectation, we have to hold them accountable.” He would also say how he was shocked how someone fighting for a job could do what Smith did.
Now? Well, now, Callaway has this to say about Smith, “Obviously, the defense is always gonna be there and the offense looks special right now. He’s putting great swings on the ball. He’s got great energy and I love what I see so far.”
Everyone has to love what they are seeing with Smith right now. Somewhat unexpectedly, he is making this a first base battle. More than that, he’s just battling. This was a young player, who had been knocked down and been humiliated. He struggled, and he’s seen perceptions of him change dramatically. He’s now much more mature, and like the mature person he is becoming, he is using his past experiences to make himself better.