Dominic Smith is a first baseman who’s athletic enough to fake it in left field. That’s a good thing because the Mets have a 1B who hit 53 HR and while he’s not as good defensively as Smith, he’s not going to sit for him, either. Last year, the planets aligned for Smith to get regular playing time. The National League had the DH as a response to Covid, offering an extra spot in the lineup. And while at first that was the home for Yoenis Cespedes, a bunch of strikeouts and a questionable path for playing time going forward helped convince Cespedes to opt out of the remainder of the season, which opened up regular playing time for Smith.

In a year where the leader in PA amassed 267, Smith came to the plate 199 times. There’s no DH this year but Smith did so well last season that it makes sense to use Smith in LF, even if his defense there is below average. That’s assuming that he hits somewhere close to what he did in small samples in 2019 and 2020. If his bat can’t maintain that pace, he’ll find himself on the bench as the club looks for better defensive options in the outfield. Let’s check in to see what the computer models think:

ATC – 511 PA, .268/.331/.482, 22 HR, 77 RBIs
BAT – 575 PA, .254/.320/.438, 21 HR, 74 RBIs
MtM – 488 PA, .272/.342/.505, 22 HR, 71 RBIs
RCh – 564 PA, .270/.330/.489, 23 HR, 81 RBIs
STE – 530 PA, .256/.320/.454, 22 HR, 73 RBIs
ZiPS – 541 PA, .271/.329/.474, 21 HR, 80 RBIs

That’s a pretty big gap between the high and low in PA but an understandable one given that Smith has never reached 200 PA in a season. The surprising thing is how these models all predict this much playing time for him. Over the past two seasons, Smith has a .299 AVG but none of the models has him particularly close to that level. That’s not a surprise, as Smith posted a .320 BABIP in 2019 and then a .360 mark last year. He’s not going to approach last year’s BABIP, so the question is how close he can get to 2019’s results. Of the four systems on FanGraphs that list BABIP, ZiPS has him with the highest, giving Smith a .325 BABIP this season

The other big question with Smith is how his ISO will fare. When he was a prospect, the conventional wisdom was that Smith was a foul line to foul line hitter who lacked great over-the-fence power but would add homers as he aged. But he’s displayed HR power since his initial call to the majors and has 35 HR in 664 ABs with the Mets.

But it’s not just homers, as Smith finished second in the league with 21 doubles in 2020. All told, it led to a .299 ISO, which is a terrific number. For a point of reference, Darryl Strawberry’s career-high in ISO was the .299 mark he posted in 1987. From our computer models, the best ISO forecast for Smith in 2021 is the .233 mark of Marcel. The BABIP projections for Smith make sense. The big question is if you think the ISO projections do, too.

All we have for Smith is small samples. But in his last 396 PA, he has a .272 ISO.

So, what do we have here? We have an unknown with his ISO, a big unknown with his BABIP and questions if he can hack it in the outfield enough to keep his bat in the lineup. It’s not difficult to make the case that Smith deserves a more-bearish projection than any of our six computer models gave him.

It’s also difficult to imagine that his ISO is just going to be cut by a third from what it was last season. Smith had a .214 ISO coming into 2020, so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that he’s going to post a .198 mark in the category like Steamer forecasts. No doubt that Steamer is still incorporating minor league data into its projection. Smith didn’t produce like this in the minors, putting up just a .159 ISO in 884 PA in Las Vegas. My opinion is that what Smith did in the majors in 2019-20 is more important than what he did in the minors in 2017-18.

Furthermore, my belief is that Smith’s defense won’t materially affect his playing time. Sure, the expectation should be that he’ll be removed in the late innings of close games for a defensive upgrade. But it should still allow him to play seven or eight innings and get four plate appearances most games. So, here’s my totally biased forecast for Smith this season:

568 PA, .278/.336/.527, 26 HR, 78 RBIs

You’ll have more credibility if you weigh in now with what you think Smith will do this season.

9 comments on “Mets 2021 projections: Dominic Smith

  • Wobbit

    I think Dom Smith is a good hitter, and perhaps this year, given the best simply size of an actual full season, we will see how good. I thought he was being unduly inflated in 2019, off to a hot start and dropping fast when he was injured. Then in 2020, when little was as it appeared, he performed very well and seemed to come of age.

    I expect Dom is a legit ML power hitter. If the Mets are smart, they will start him against every RH pitcher and some of the LH pitchers. Steer him toward his best chance at success. Accept this defensive liabilities in LF, and let him close games at 1B for Pete… understandable even to Pete.

    I’d be surprised if he reaches 500 PA, but I think he will hit for power and a healthy ISO. Like it or not, his success is critical to the Mets’ success… the Pillar/Almora alternative will not match his offensive contributions. His only limitation might be staying healthy.

    480PA / .275 / .340 / .510 / 24 HRs / 72 RBI

  • Footballhead

    I know I’m showing my ignorance when I ask this, but I do want it clarified. I understand what PA is (HBP, BB, AB); and I know that the first figure in the triple slash is a players batting avg…. but what do the next two figures represents? On base percentage and what else?

    Sticking with old fashion numbers then, I think Dominic Smith will be the LF & late innings defensive replacement at 1B as Wobbit surmised. Pillar/Almora will also be caddying for Nimmo and Smith (and maybe Conforto) in the OF as a defensive upgrade. I am surprised how low everybody has Smith’s batting average. Then again, his ST #’s might suggest this to be correct. Since I’ve undervalued Alonso in the earlier prediction, I’ll just compound my error and overvalue Smith’s contributions. PA 540 AVG. 280 HR 24 RBI 88 and about 45 doubles.

  • Mr_Math

    ATC – 511 PA, .268/.331/.482/.813, 22 HR, 77 RBIs
    BAT – 575 PA, .254/.320/.438/.758, 21 HR, 74 RBIs
    MtM – 488 PA, .272/.342/.505/.847, 22 HR, 71 RBIs
    RCh – 564 PA, .270/.330/.489/.819, 23 HR, 81 RBIs
    STE – 530 PA, .256/.320/.454/.774, 22 HR, 73 RBIs
    ZiPS – 541 PA, .271/.329/.474/.803, 21 HR, 80 RBIs

    Not sure about your question, footballdude, so I amended the stat projection numbers with the typical fourth quantity in the so-called “slash listing”

    The quantities are BA/OBP/SLG/OPS

  • Paulc

    485 PA, .275/.350/.510, 23 HR, 70 RBI

  • Mr_Math

    Sorry 4 the downer, dudes, but Rick JM (aka José Hunter) suffered a serious head injury 2 weeks ago and remains in the hospital (bicycling accident it is surmised)

    doctors think he’ll recover, but will need substantial PT and outpatient help, but chance are good he’ll achieve (at least a partial and/or full) recovery

    Wanna send me good wishes? Let I recommend you wishing a WS championship for my Metsies

    • Brian Joura

      Consider good wishes sent your way!

      Reminds me of the old joke about the football player who suffered a head injury and they were worried about a concussion. Guy rejoins his teammates, smiling from ear to ear. He tells the team – They X-rayed my head and found nothing!

  • Hobie

    I wonder why MtM, which predicts the highest slash rating in every category, has the least PA’s. Injury or mismanagement?
    OK, wishful thinking because I like him: averages 2H every 7 AB’s with his K’s (and therefore his BABIP down).
    560PA .286/.360/.440 25HR 95RBI

  • TexasGusCC


    25 HR, 80/80+, very slow start, Decent LF

  • Metsense

    545 PA, .282/.355/521 27 HR, 79 RBI’s

    Dom is a solid person that has the temperament to play out of position and succeed. He will be a liability in left but will improve as the season progresses but he will need a late inning outfield defensive replacement.

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