Mets Might Be Only Team Who Can’t Figure Out Dominic Smith Playing Time

If you’ve been paying attention, Dominic Smith has been great in camp, and Luis Rojas has been talking about how the team needs to find him playing time. This being a conundrum for the Mets is almost comical.

Look, we all get Pete Alonso is the first baseman. Also due to a myriad of factors, Yoenis Cespedes is the DH. That does impact Smith’s playing time opportunities as he should be at first with Alonso at DH, but the Mets aren’t going to just write off Cespedes. It’s a justifiable stance.

That said, if the Mets actually paid attention to the numbers and respective talent levels, the answer as to where Smith should play is painstakingly obvious.

At the moment, the Mets have written in J.D. Davis as the starting left fielder in pen, wrote over it in Sharpee, and then laminated it. If you look at it, this is a mistake.

In 2019, Davis was terrible in left. He was a Major League worst -11 DRS out of any left fielder who played at least 500 innings. His -7 OAA ranked 138th in the Majors. His success rate of 78% was among the worst in baseball as well. It’s by no means hyperbole to suggest he is the worst defensive outfielder in all of baseball.

Now, Smith isn’t great in left by any means. Ideally speaking, he shouldn’t be out there everyday. That said, he’s a significantly better left field option than Davis.

In 2019, Smith was a -3 OAA. He had a 86% success rate. He also had a -2 DRS. Make no mistake here, Smith is not a good left fielder. However, even with his not being a good left fielder, he’s significantly better than Davis with a very comparable arm.

While it seems incredulous to say, Smith in left is a significantly better option than Davis. Of course, we know the Mets eschew defense for offense despite the data standing in direct opposition to that approach.

Last year, Davis had a 136 wRC+ and a 138 OPS+. Smith had a 133 wRC+ and a 134 OPS+. The difference between their offense production last year was negligible.

In total, Smith gives you the same level of offensive production as Davis, and he hit better in the clutch last year. He’s a significantly better defender in left field. Looking at this, the question needs to be asked how in the world are the Mets perplexed over how to get Smith more playing time?

Really, the answer is obvious to anyone who has bothered to check the numbers. It’s more obvious when you look at talent, age, and who gives you the best chance to win.

If the Mets need to figure out what to do with Smith, they should play him everyday in left field. It’s the only rational choice.

13 Replies to “Mets Might Be Only Team Who Can’t Figure Out Dominic Smith Playing Time”

  1. holmer says:

    No, the rational response is for Smith and Davis to platoon in left just like they did last year until Smith went down with injury. It does not have to be either/or.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No rational solution entails having a guy who has established a complete inability to play LF to get even semi-regular playing time there.

  2. holmer says:

    And you’re saying Smith has established himself as a strong defender in left field? He isn’t and LF will be a defensive liability this year. And what about Davis’s bat? Both Davis and Smith have great offensive potential so splitting their time and working match-ups is the best course of action.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Nowhere did I make that claim about Smith. Rather, I said between the two, Smith is vastly superior defensively.

      The fact Smith is vastly superior defensively while still not being good only further highlights how Davis has no business in LF.

      Again, I’ll repeat it, no plan should have Davis in LF

  3. JP says:

    I don’t get the headline to this.

    Dom Smith could be gotten in a trade for very little. There’s not a line of teams eager to get him. The problem is that 1B is a very competitive position and it’s not clear that he can do the job. It’s also not clear that he’s able to play LF. Seems like a terrific kid and possibly a “good” first baseman. Maybe a second-division team would give him a chance, though that doesn’t look likely.

    If you made the argument that J.D. Davis was too poor a defender to play LF, then okay, that’s a rational argument. You value defense. That makes sense. Personally, I’d like to find ways to get J.D.’s bat in there and would try to live with him in LF for some games, see how it develops.

    I see his bat as much superior to Dom’s. He’s more of a hitter to my eyes.

    Unfortunately, as usual, you take a snide, condescending tone — that you are smarter than everybody in baseball! — and it badly undercuts your argument.


    1. metsdaddy says:

      Davis’ production last year was fool’s gold. It was entirely related to a juiced ball and a BABIP that’s been unsustainable in the 150 year history of baseball.

      Dom is a superior player and should not be losing time to players who are ground ball machines with a sub 800 OPS under normal circumstances

  4. dave says:

    The fact is JD Davis was worth 2.5 fWAR in about 400 abs even with the poor defense. Defensive metrics aren’t the end all/be all, especially in LF where the ball gets hit…maybe about 7 times per game in the air on average. We are talking about 3 or 4 50/50 chances per week that he may or may not get to. You’ve been down on Davis consistently, even as he proved himself last year to be a solid major leaguer with elite exit velos, line drive #s, barrels and hard hit rates.

    Dom definitely deserves starts in LF, 1b and DH, it doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. Also, the eye test pretty clearly shows Dom isn’t much better than JD, don’t take the small sample metrics on Dom in LF as gospel. Dom had some embarrassing miscues that cost them games late in LF (I can think of 2 off the top of my head), and that’s understandable. And here’s one more thing, both players can improve with reps, just as Pete improved a ton at 1b by all reports.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Davis had a 1.0 WAR, and that’s with him getting help with a juiced ball and lucky with a .385 BABIP over the last four months.

      Aside from the fact he can’t repeat that offensive production, he’s a complete liability defensively. He has no business being in LF at all. It’s how you lose games.

      1. Dave G. says:

        Wrong, Fangraphs had him at 2.4 WAR. If you want to argue based on d-metrics, Fangraphs is considered superior to B-ref and I think you know this. Talk about ignoring facts.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          bWAR, which actually uses better defensive metrics in its calc, had him at 1.0.

          And no, fWAR is not considered superior. Not in the least.

Comments are closed.