Numerous reports indicate that this is probably the last season as a Met for first baseman Lucas Duda. He will either be traded before the July 31 deadline or else will likely sign elsewhere for the 2018 campaign, as his current contract with the Mets expires after this season.
Assuming Duda does go, the presumptive choice within the organization to take over at first base is Dominic Smith, currently playing first for the Las Vegas 51s of the PCL. Smith is putting up impressive numbers at the AAA level, with a slash line of .337/.391/.526 in 100 games. As we know, the PCL with its numerous stadiums at a high elevation is a batter’s paradise, but Smith showed he could also hit last year at Binghamton in AA ball in a more pitcher-friendly environment.
The stat I am going to concentrate on for this piece is not his BA or his SLG, but his WGT. The 22 year old Smith has shown considerable variance in his weight over his career. When signed as the Mets first round draft choice after the June 2013 draft, he was listed as 6-0/185 lbs. At the end of last year, the six foot part had not changed but the weight had soared to 258 lbs. That is not a frame you see very often in MLB, especially on a player in his early 20s.
To his credit Smith shed some pounds in the most recent off-season, he had said that he had changed his dietary habits as well as his workout regimen. As a result, FanGraphs now lists him as 6-0/239. That is still an unusual build for a first sacker, typically one is taller and not as heavy.
Looking around some of the prominent active NL first basemen, we find Paul Goldschmidt at 6-3/225, Joey Votto at 6-2/220, Anthony Rizzo at 6-3/240, Freddie Freeman at 6-5/220 and Wil Myers at 6-3/205. Digging into the past, classic Met first baseman Keith Hernandez was listed as 6-0/195.
Smith is certainly getting the job done this year. However the fact that he went from 185 pounds in 2013 to 258 lbs in 2016 is disturbing. Even though he lost some weight during this off-season, we have all seen people lose some poundage then pack it all and more back on. Smith at 239 pounds could be a very successful player, a heavy hitter so to speak. Smith at 258 pounds (or more, as he ages) could be a hitter who’s heavy, and on the way to a shorter and less productive career due to a greater chance of injury via the extra stress on his frame.