Give Dominic Smith A Break
Last night, Dominic Smith had two errors in the third inning which led to what would prove to be the Padres game winning rally. Later in the game, Smith would have a misplay which would not be charged as an error. When you add in his letting a ball drop with Amed Rosario running towards him, a play which happened to both of them last year, Smith has not been good in left field recently.
As a result, Mets fans have begun again talking about how he is not a left fielder and that the team needs to trade him this offseason. The calls to get him out of the outfield and off the team are partially the result of Smith having a down July hitting just .170/.188/.340 albeit with a .171 BABIP.
Calls to remove him from the outfield and to get Smith off the team are a complete and utter overreaction to a rough stretch, and they need to stop. In fact, with all Smith has gone through in his career to get to this point, you would think at some point Mets fans would give him a break and just believe in him.
No, Smith has not been good in the field. However, even with those struggles, he is just a -2 DRS, and he is a week removed from being a 1 DRS. He also only has 307.0 Major League innings in the outfield and just 837.0 innings as a professional. Of note, Smith has never had an offseason or Spring Training to really work on the position. Because of the way the Mets are perpetually run, it has always been on the fly.
The point being here is no one can really tell you if Smith is really capable of being an everyday left fielder or not. It remains very possible he isn’t. It also remains possible he could be. After all, even when accounting for his poor play, he is still not a butcher out there. Certainly not anywhere near the level Todd Hundley, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda were before him.
We should also note even with this recent cold streak, Smith is still hitting .283/.358/.514 (132 wRC+) on the season. That makes him the Mets third best hitter this year. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, that would be enough to rank as the 27th best hitting outfielder in the majors. Put another way, he has the bat to play out there. The question is if he can play well enough defensively.
The answer to that question is we don’t know yet. As noted he has well less than a full season’s worth of experience in the outfield over the course of his entire professional career. It is possible with a full offseason and Spring Training to prepare he would be adequate to good out there. Maybe he will never be, but we should never make snap judgments about his ability.
After all, when Smith struggled over parts of his first two Major League seasons, people made snap judgments he was never going to be any good. With him getting his sleep apnea treated and having real time to put in the work this offseason, he has proven everyone wrong. For those who doubt him, they should allow Smith to prove them wrong again.