Dom Should See Some Time In LF
Yesterday, Dominic Smith received his second start of the season, and much like the rest of the season, he hit. In five plate appearances, he was 2-for-4 with a run and a walk.
With that performance, Smith is now hitting .438/.526/.500. Seeing those results, his age, and his previously being considered among the Top 100 prospects in the game, you’d believe the Mets would be doing everything they could do to get him into the lineup.
The problem is Smith plays first base, a position now occupied by Pete Alonso and with the way Alonso is playing, there’s no way you’re having him sit to create more playing time for anyone else on this roster.
Now, it should be noted Smith played left field last year. He wasn’t not good there at all. In 90.0 MLB innings, he had a -5 DRS and a -3.1 UZR. Part of the reason why was his poor speed.
Baseball Savant had Smith’s sprint speed at 26.3 ft/second. Coincidentally, that was the same foot speed as Rhys Hoskins, another first baseman poorly masquerading as a left fielder. With respect to Hoskins, the Phillies moving Carlos Santana was partially motivated by their wanting to get Hoskins out of left.
Absent any improvements, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why Smith would post better numbers than Hoskins -24 DRS and -11.3 UZR in left. This may have been one of the reasons why the Mets abandoned the experiment heading into this season. The question now is whether the Mets should revisit this decision.
Seeing Smith this year, he’s been in better shape, and he’s been quicker than in years past. Part of that is his getting better sleep with his sleep apnea mask. Between his better conditioning, his having experience in left, and with his now hitting, the Mets have plenty of reasons to believe Smith could now succeed in left.
In fact, as Matt Ehalt of Yahoo reports, both Smith and his agent have approached the Mets about playing left field. The Mets outright rejected the idea. The end result is Smith has no real avenue to play.
While you understand why the Mets wouldn’t want to revisit the idea, it may be short-sighted. The team is already poor defensively in left with Jeff McNeil, and they have been poor defensively at third when J.D. Davis plays there. If you put McNeil at third, where he is better suited, and Smith in left, the Mets are still weak in left, but overall, they’re better defensively.
They would also be better offensively, especially with the way Smith is hitting.
Even if the Mets don’t want Smith in left everyday, there’s value in just getting him on the field more frequently. That value is an even better offense than what we have already seen. It’s also more versatility for a manager who seems intent on setting the major league record for double switches.
Mostly, this is about finding a way to maximize the talent on the Mets roster. Smith in left field could help them accomplish that.