Dominic Smith should be starting games

Quietly sitting in the top 10 among the Mets 2019 WAR ranking is Dominic Smith, who sports a 0.8 bWAR (good for seventh on the team). Smith, who has only started six games this season, is victim to the heroic performance of Pete Alonso, his first base counterpart who has earned playing time himself. However there is something to be said about a player who has hit well for the team and is getting on base at an improved rate; Smith is seeing the ball well and should be given an opportunity to start more games.

Smith should receive an automatic start against a right handed starter at least once a week, spelling Alonso in the process. In interleague matchups, both Alonso and Smith should be in the lineup. In addition, Smith can start one or two games per week in the outfield moving forward. The outfield is not unchartered territory for the former first round pick, who appeared in 90 innings last year in left field. Yes, his defensive metrics were atrocious during that timeframe, and the eye test certainly confirmed it. But is ten games worth of playing time enough to fully evaluate a player at a position? Smith has clearly come into 2019 in better shape than before, and is more agile on the base paths because of it. He has also made it publically clear that he is willing to spend time practicing an outfield position, which management did not allow until recently.

Smith deserves the playing time due to an improved walk and slugging rate over his first 58 plate appearances of the year. Much like ten games isn’t enough to evaluate defense, fifteen games worth of batting also cannot be evaluated with much certainty. Just by looking at his .432 BABIP we know that the hits will stop falling into play for him at such a high rate. However the increase in walks is a good sign of things that can come. Surely a slightly regressed version of this Dominic Smith can string together more successful at bats than whatever Aaron Altherr or Carlos Gomez are running into these days.

On the base path, Smith has safely reached based 26 times and scored in 13 of such instances. This mark suggests that Smith is moving well around the bases, which bodes well for a player who gets on at a .466 clip (his wRC+ of 169 supports this). While he has only hit one home run so far this year, many believed that his swing profile would naturally begin to lift the ball for more long balls with more playing time.

In a year where the lineup seems to have an identity crisis, Smith would be a welcome on base threat with Brandon Nimmo not around to fill that role. The defense will most certainly suffer a bit, but perhaps between the health and repetition he will develop into a replacement level defender in a corner outfield spot. The Mets could benefit from an infusion of new energy into the starting roster, as teams around the National League are calling up reinforcements such as Austin Riley and Keston Hiura who are rookies for the Braves and Brewers. Dominic Smith should be starting more games, setting the table for other Mets in the order and creating runs where possible.

5 comments for “Dominic Smith should be starting games

  1. Metsense
    May 29, 2019 at 11:11 am

    The Mets are in a crises situation in the outfield with Nimmo and McNeil out. CarGo has stepped up with his .738 OPS and should take away the starting center field job from Lagares (.527). Like wise, Dom (.947 OPS) should be platooning with Davis (.774 OPS with a .670 OPS in the last month) in left field during this crises. This is another example of Calloway not having a feel for his team.

  2. Eraff
    May 29, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Dom is earning a shot… he’s becoming a very attractive trade prospect based on his performance and the fact that the Mets have alternatives for the places he can play

    If they trade in to the race, he is a key chip—- otherwise, he will become an off season move

    Well done Dom!!!

  3. BVac
    May 29, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Game 1 of the Dodger series reminded us of the importance of defense. While the Mets arn’t rolling out gold glovers in left field, Smith won’t get the call there unless he shows more ability at the position, which hoepfully he does. I am curious to see how great of a trade chip he is with the aforementioned BABIP in limited PA, but I am happy to keep enjoying the ride of having one of our best hitters put in for a clutch situation every game.

  4. May 29, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Everyone focuses on the BABIP, which obviously isn’t sustainable. But we should also spend some time looking at his BB% and K%

    After a 2.7 BB% in 2018, Smith has a 15.3 rate here in 2019. And while that’s tremendous improvement, even more remarkable is that his K% has gone from 31.5% to 16.9 here in 2019.

    He had no chance of being a successful MLB player with a 30% K rate.

    He’s adjusted by swinging at significantly fewer pitches out of the strike zone. Pitchers will adjust and then it’s up to Smith to counter. Hopefully he’ll look to jump on certain pitches and deliver some power. Much like he couldn’t thrive with that elevated K rate, he’s got to produce more than a .143 ISO. Among full-time players, that’s a bottom 20% of the league number.

  5. TJ
    May 29, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I am a Dom fan and happy for him. But, we do need to keep in mind this is just 58 plate appearances. I’d certainly like to see him get some ABs in LF, could he be much wore than Davis in the field?

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