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.

4 thoughts on “Give Dominic Smith A Break”

  1. Chris says:

    The Mets are a band of misfits. Smith doesn’t have a home with the Mets. Good kid. However, Alonso is the 1b. The Mets NEED to find two good outfielders who can hit a little AND, heaven forbid, play defense. Do Smith a favor and trade him to a place where he can play his real position and get some decent quality back.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I think the Mets should also consider trading Alonso. Between the two make the deal which makes you the best team possible.

    2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      @Chris Makes sense. A team that needs a 1B (and is not getting solid production from the DH slot as well might be ideal) and has a CF tweener to spare might be the best possible deal. The Mets don’t even have 200 good PAs yet from Smith. He’s not bringing back a solid starting position player.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Fwiw, I can’t see anything wrong with simply using Smith in his early role (through late May) of part-timer with little exposure in LF.
    The Mets can also send him to camp in the offseason to work on his LF defense and see if he can approach average in left. If he’s -5 he might be the Mets best choice in LF in 2020 given all the holes they have to fill. If he’s -10 then spot him depending on pitchers, use him as a 4th or 5th OFer and ph’er with the added value of being able to be swapped in at 1B, allowing for double switches. LF though *should* be a spot that any competent GM can fill with a 25 HR one-d slugger for a few million. It shouldn’t be a spot that you wreck a player’s value to fill.

    Given the Mets tendency to put their players in a position to fail, though (they told Smith not to work out in LF, incredibly enough before putting in LF in 2/3 of their games starting in late May), I fully expect them to make Smith into Lucas Duda 2.0, play him there regularly even if he’s the worst LFer in the NL, play him until he drops, and otherwise destroy his value. That his defense to date isn’t too bad by some of the numbers (Total Zone likes him, whereas BIS cringes, and overall fangraphs finds Smith below average) doesn’t mean much. He hasn’t played enough in the OF to make those numbers meaningful. He needs to be looked at, play by play, by the proprietary methods all good teams employ. It’s also one of those cases where the eye test of a good scout is more useful than just numbers. His defensive stats to date in LF this year are worth about 10 games worth of plate appearances for a hitter.

    In any case, a good team would be cautious about pushing Smith into a new role. Historically he has been slow to adjust, and he definitely has his limits. He’s also surely on the worst team in baseball with which to succeed.

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