Mets Never Gave Dominic Smith A Chance
The writing had been on the wall, and now, it’s official. With the New York Mets non-tendering Dominic Smith, his tenure with the team has now ended.
In many ways, it never really began.
Despite Smith being a first round pick and top 100 prospect, he was only given 49 games in 2017 to claim the first base job. This was at a time when he had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.
Rosario was never challenged for his job despite his failures. Smith was never given the chance to succeed.
In Smith’s entire six year career with the Mets, he entered Opening Day as the team’s first baseman zero times. Yes, Pete Alonso had a lot to do with that, but the organization’s unwillingness to give him the job played into it more.
Remember, after González was designated for assignment in 2018, Smith was not recalled to play first despite the team being effectively eliminated from postseason competition in May.
Over six years, Smith, a pure first baseman, has logged more innings in left than at first. Notably, left is out of position for Smith, and he suffered injuries each year he was asked to play extended time there.
On that note, the only time he was given a steering job out of Spring Training was 2021. He’d hurt his shoulder and play through it partially because of all of the Mets injuries.
He earned that chance because of a great 2020 pandemic season. That was the only time in his Mets career he was healthy and given a chance to play first. He thrived.
To the apparent shock of the Mets, Smith did not thrive playing out of position or when injured. It’s shocking they didn’t realize this because they only had to go as far back as Lucas Duda to figure that out. This being the Mets, they didn’t.
Smith was a DH fewer times than Alonso, who only served that role 27 times all season. Smith was the DH in just eight more games than Mark Vientos. Vientos was a short side platoon DH called up on September 11.
Barely getting more reps at a position than a part time player called up with less than a month remaining in the season is proof positive he wasn’t given a shot to win the job.
There are obvious and fair criticisms of Smith in 2022. He didn’t hit a homer in the majors all year. He didn’t hit much at all. Then again, his playing time was very sporadic.
Still, when you don’t produce, you’re going to be benched. Moreover, when the Mets were in need for pitching, they needed to send Smith down.
What’s truly bizarre is we never saw Smith in September. That was even with him hitting, and the Mets needing offense, offense the rookies were not providing. For Smith’s Mets tenure, it was par for the course.
Now, Smith is going to be free to sign with a team willing to play him at first. He’s going to get to show when playing first he can be that guy he was in 2020. Conversely, he also gets the chance to prove he’s not that guy.
Put another way, Smith is finally going to get his chance. Here’s hoping he takes full advantage and produces like we know he can.