Where does Dom Smith fit in the Mets’ defensive alignment?

The New York Mets could find themselves in a bit of a problem if the universal designated hitter isn’t implemented for the 2021 season. The rule was in play in the atypical 2020 campaign, and it was a success. But as of now, the league doesn’t seem too inclined to use it again unless it is part of a bargaining opportunity.

The Mets really took advantage of the DH in 2020. It allowed them to include Dominic Smith’s bat in the lineup on a regular basis while also playing Jeff McNeil, JD Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso.

However, what will the Mets do if they can’t, as a National League team, use the DH spot this season? By trade, the most affected player would be Smith, at least at first glance. McNeil can play second, third, and left field, Nimmo can man center field, Davis can alternate between left field and the hot corner, and Andres Gimenez can play all over the infield except first base.

Smith is a first baseman who was tried in the outfield corners in recent years as a way to include his bat in the lineup more often. The issue, for the Mets, is that Pete Alonso is the first baseman and there are several outfielders, like McNeil, Nimmo, Davis, and Michael Conforto, the regular right fielder.

The Mets need to find a spot for Smith’s bat

So where would Smith play? His bat did the talking for the Mets in 2020, with a .316/.377/.616 slash line, 10 home runs, and 42 RBI. He was among the league leaders in wRC+, with 165, and extra base hits.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo can foresee a potential competition between Alonso and Smith for first base reps. “If the National League proceeds without a designated hitter in 2021, the Mets won’t have an obvious place to deploy Dominic Smith, their most valuable offensive player in ’20. Left field remains an option, though far less of one if the Mets acquire Springer. That leaves first base, where Smith outperformed Pete Alonso on both sides of the ball last season. Will that performance be enough for the Mets to call first base an open competition between Smith and Alonso, who is just two years removed from his breakout, 53-homer NL Rookie of the Year Award campaign? Or will Smith go back to the bench, where he thrived as a slugging, left-handed pinch hitter in 2019? Is a third option, such as a trade of Smith — a popular clubhouse figure — in play?” he explained.

As of now, the Mets could play McNeil at second, Davis at third, Smith in left field, Nimmo in center, and Alonso at first. The defense, however, would be very shaky, and that would leave one between Amed Rosario and Gimenez without a spot.

It’s an issue that Mets’ manager Luis Rojas will have to deal with, and soon.

New York Mets: It’s A New Year, But We Have No Clue About The DH

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

We are just over a month from the beginning of spring training, but Major League Baseball still has not decided on a universal designated hitter. This decision affects the New York Mets more than any other team in the National League due to their abundance of below-average defenders.

Returning the DH to the NL betters the Mets defense by default. It benefits the Mets to avoid playing Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso in the field together. With the DH, one can play first base (preferably Smith) while the other is the DH. Brandon Nimmo or Jeff McNeil play left field instead of Smith, and it leaves J.D. Davis as a DH option against lefties.

The lack of information on the DH affects the free-agent market too. If the Mets sign George Springer, Nimmo becomes the odd-man-out without the DH. Michael Conforto would remain in right field, and either Smith/Davis plays in left. With a DH, the Mets have a set outfield and only worry about who plays third base daily.

Unfortunately, Rob Manfred and the owners think the universal DH is a bargaining chip against the players union. The longer MLB waits on it, the longer players like Nelson Cruz and Marcell Ozuna only have 15 teams to play for in 2021.

Mets’ Dom Smith praised Steve Cohen and is ‘excited for what is on the horizon’

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

The new-look Mets won’t have the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen in charge. They have a new owner in Steve Cohen, a new president (also tasked with baseball decisions, at least for now) in Sandy Alderson, and will have a new general manager any day now. They will also have a new starting catcher, since Wilson Ramos won’t be back in 2021, and presumably a couple of new starting pitchers, outfielders or even some relievers.

But the offensive structure, sans the suspended Robinson Cano, will be virtually the same as 2020. Jeff McNeil will be back, as will Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, and one of the season’s breakout performers: Dominic Smith.

With a .316/.377/.616 line, a .412 wOBA, and a 165 wRC+, Smith was perhaps the New York Mets’ best performer outside of ace Jacob deGrom. Smith even received votes in the MVP race, finishing in the 13th position.

And just like several other players, he has expressed his happiness about Cohen taking over the franchise. “Steve is a great guy! I would say the whole team is excited about what Steve’s vision is and his passion to make this Mets organization great. We all want to win and we know we’re capable of that so definitely excited for what is on the horizon,” he said in a Q&A with SNY.

A difference-maker for the Mets

Smith proved that, with regular at-bats, he can be a difference-maker at the plate, as his first-round pedigree suggests.

“I’m just trying to go out there and be better each day, it’s not about proving myself to anyone but me. I think the team knows I go out there, as all of us do, and give it everything we have. I’m honored to just be in the discussion for MVP, that’s a blessing,” he explained.

He says that he is “always working. I am always working to get better each day. My goal is just to be better each time I step out there on the field and continue to strive for success.”

Smith took the chance to express his happiness about Marcus Stroman returning to the Mets. “Definitely happy Marcus is back! He is an important asset on the team, and he brings the best out of all of us. We would love to train together this offseason, but right now we are just playing it day by day with everything going on with COVID.”

New York Mets: Dom Smith is very impressed with Steve Cohen

The New York Mets had a Cy Young award finalist in Jacob deGrom, yet only one player finished in the top 15 of the National MVP voting. Dare to guess who that player is? No, it’s not Pete Alonso, or Jeff McNeil, or even Michael Conforto. It was Dominic Smith.

If you thought Smith would be the only New York Mets’ player in the top 15 of the NL MVP ballot, well, you could be related to Smith. But with hard work, an improved batting line (.316/.377/.616, with 10 home runs, a .412 wOBA and a 165 wRC+) and playing time that became available after Yoenis Cespedes decided to opt out, he managed to get two eight place votes, four nine place votes and a couple of 10th place ones to finish 13th.

He has become one of the Mets’ best building blocks. And he, along with other members of the organization, has been impressed with new owner Steve Cohen, a lifelong fan of the team that has said all the right teams to a hungry fanbase.

The Mets’ new owner has another fan in Smith

According to Bradford William Davis of the New York Daily News, Smith didn’t watch the whole press conference but was extremely impressed with everything he heard and saw. “Having an owner come in like that and say some pretty demanding things, and have high hopes for the organization the way he does, is definitely just a great sign.”

“You just want to pretty much work and give him everything he wants,” Smith said. “And he wants to win the World Series in the near future, that’s definitely a goal of everybody on this 25 man roster.”

Fellow member of the Mets Marcus Stroman was also impressed with Cohen’s remarks and involvement since he was approved by the MLB owners as the new leader. The two had a very pleasant Twitter exchange.

Smith said that the Mets are just a couple of pieces short of building something great. “If you look at the talent on the roster, over the last several years, we have a roster that definitely can do some things,” he said. “A lot of our team — we’ve done a ton of self-evaluations, and we were all going back to the drawing board. So to have a team that motivated going into (the) offseason, we can do just about anything.”

New York Mets Player Evaluations: First Base/Left Field Dominic Smith

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

There once was a time where the New York Mets opted to keep Dominic Smith on the bench during the early part of the 2020 season. With Pete Alonso and Yoenis Cespedes clogging potential lineup spots, they could not find playing time for him. Thankfully, Cespedes decided to abandon the team, and Smith became the Mets’ most productive offensive player.

The 2019 season was a sneak preview of what Smith was truly capable of at the big league level. In 2020, he put it all together, hitting .316/.377/.616 with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs, and 21 doubles. Smith’s ability to drive in runs made him a staple in the fourth spot of the order. He hit .333 w/RISP and put the same batting average up with two outs and RISP.

Much like his teammate, Michael Conforto, Smith benefitted from a decrease in launch angle to produce more line drives. Smith’s average launch angle dropped from 15.1 degrees last year to 10.8. This allowed Smith to have a 46.7% hard-hit rate, 13.3% barrel rate, and have 39.3% of his batted balls result in line drives.

Complete Hitter

All of those factors equal a hitter who will put himself in a position to hit for average and for power. Smith also became a hitter who forced pitchers to get him out with the fastball. He batted .388 and .351 on breaking balls and offspeed pitches, respectively. Smith had his lowest average and slugging percentage against the fastball, but it was not enough for pitchers to survive by only throwing the hard stuff.

What made Smith such a successful hitter against the secondary pitches is his ability to let it travel in the zone. Smith’s ability to keep his weight back allowed his barrel to remain in the zone to make solid contact no matter how early or late he was. When a hitter does that, he gives himself the best chance to succeed because he can hit the ball in multiple different locations with that one swing.

Defensive Questions

With the two power-hitting first basemen, Smith and Alonso, it is tough to fit them in the lineup. Smith saw some time in left field and was an expected liability there. He had a -5 fielding runs above average and a negative ultimate zone rating. The numbers are much better at first base, and Smith played his natural position more often during the season’s final month. This was when Alonso had issues with his fielding, and the Mets wanted better outfield defense.

It is impossible to mention Smith’s year without mentioning his leadership on and off the field. He helped lead a walk-off between the Mets and Marlins following the protest going on throughout sports. Smith also spilled his emotions, telling his stories and opinions on what was going on in the country. He is one of the most colorful and genuine personalities on the Mets and one of the best teammates they could ask for.

Smith had a fringe-MVP caliber year, would have been an All-Star, and was named a finalist for the Hank Aaron award. Among NL leaders, he finished second in doubles (21), fourth in slugging percentage (.616), fourth in OPS (.993), tied for fifth in RBIs (42), and eighth in batting average (.316). The toughest part for the Mets comes in finding a position for him to settle into for the 2021 season.

 

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 80 (70), Cannot get much better than what he produced.

Power: 70 (70), Legitimate power to all fields, and it comes with 40+ double capability.

Run: 30 (30), Not fast but certainly quicker than you would expect.

Arm: 45 (45), Great for first base, but the accuracy surpassed the arm strength in the outfield.

Field: 50 (55), Fields what he gets to in the outfield but has gold glove capability at first base.

Overall: 80 (75), It was an unbelievable season, but doing it for a full year is the final test in his growth.

New York Mets: The Peterson/Chirinos Battery Lead Mets To 3-2 Win

New York Mets, David Peterson

Who would have thought the combination of David Peterson and Robinson Chirinos would team up with the 2020 season started? Both guys took different paths to the New York Mets roster but made the difference in their 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. The win kept their small playoff hopes still alive as they sit 2.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants for the final playoff spot.

While Peterson did not strike out batters at the same rate as his last start, he was still very effective. In his final start of the season, he held the Nationals to one run over seven innings and struck out four. Peterson used his slider to put away the Nats hitters and make the longest start of his career. He will finish the season with a very impressive 3.44 ERA, very deserving of a spot in next year’s rotation.

Rob and Dom Show

While the Mets only pushed across three runs on the night but they made them count. Chirinos drove in all three with a hustle single and a two-run home run. All of his RBI came off Patrick Corbin, and the home run was his first of the season.

Dominic Smith continued his hot hitting with three more hits, including two more double to up his season total to 21. It broke the Mets record for the most doubles through a 60 game stretch, and he still has three more games to add to that total. Robinson Cano also added two hits, including his first bunt single since 2013.

Edwin Diaz picked up his sixth save of the season after allowing one run in the ninth inning. He bent but did not break as he worked around two hits in the ninth to shut the door.

Rick Porcello faces off against former teammate Max Scherzer for the second game of the series on Friday. It is another 6:05 p.m. ET start from Nationals Park.

New York Mets: 8-5 Loss Allows Tampa Bay Rays to Clinch the AL East

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets had no choice but to win every remaining game to give themselves a shot at the postseason, but the Tampa Bay Rays had a division to win. They fired off four home runs, two from Randy Arozarena in their 8-5 win, clinching the American League Eastern division for the first time since 2010.

Michael Wacha was making his final start of the season and likely his last in a Met uniform. He started strong by striking out the side in the first inning. This episode is one we have seen from Wacha before as the first inning does not translate to the rest of his start.

While his pitch count was low, he could not avoid the home run. He allowed a solo homer to Joey Wendle and Arozarena’s first home run of the game. Arozarena’s home run gave the Rays the lead in the sixth, and they never looked back from there. Wacha made it through six innings, allowing four runs on six hits, only needing 66 pitches.

Glasnow Glows

Tyler Glasnow came into his final start of the season, ranking fifth in strikeouts for the American League. He showed off his strikeouts stuff against the Mets offense with eight over six innings and holding the Mets to two runs. Glasnow made hitters look foolish with his fastball/curve combination. When the Mets struck against him, they did so with home runs from Andres Gimenez and Dominic Smith.

The Mets had some life when down six in the ninth. They tallied three runs, two coming from a Todd Frazier home run. It was no enough for the Mets to climb back, and the Rays clinched the division at Citi Field.

The Mets head to the road as they finish off their season with a four-game road trip against the Washington Nationals. Two lefties matchup as David Peterson faces Patrick Corbin in the first game from Nationals Park. The first pitch is at 6:05 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: Peterson’s 10 Strikeouts Highlight 7-2 Win

New York Mets, David Peterson

After getting three straight starters lasted no more than two innings, David Peterson had the tall task of stopping the slump the New York Mets starting rotation are in. Peterson went far and above the call of duty striking out a career-high 10 Atlanta Braves in the Mets 7-2 victory.

Peterson lived up to his top prospect status in this big start. He held the Braves to one run over the six innings he pitched. His slider was one of the major reasons his strikeouts were up, and it was impressive to see him shut down a lineup that scored 15 runs the previous night.

In the seventh and eighth, Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson combined to keep the lead into the bottom of the eighth. It allowed them to add some insurance runs late in the game.

Patience is Key

Braves starter Ian Anderson held hitters to a .130 average but allowed ten walks over 21 innings. They paid close attention to their scouting report, drawing three straight walks to begin the bottom of the first. Robinson Cano got the Mets on the board with a two-run single to the opposite field to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.

The only other run the Mets got off Anderson was an RBI single from Robinson Chirinos in the fourth inning. Depsite Anderson struggles, Atlanta’s bullpen held the Mets silent until Chris Martin entered in the eighth. He allowed back to back home runs to Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano to being the inning. Brandon Nimmo finished it off with a two-run single to extend the Mets lead to 7-2.

It was a win the Mets needed, as all of the games have become must-win games. The rubber game of the series comes down to Kyle Wright and Rick Porcello. The first pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

New York Mets: Four Run Ninth Inning Catapults 10-6 Win

The final game of the series for the New York Mets against the Philadelphia Phillies was all about surviving and advancing to the next game. Their starting pitcher did not make it out of the second inning, seven combined runs were scored in the first inning, and two pitchers had to throw on their third consecutive day. Despite all of it, the Mets lived to steal a 10-6 victory from the Phillies.

The Mets immediately got a lead for Seth Lugo in the first inning. Dominic Smith‘s RBI double followed by Robinson Cano‘s two-run single gave the Mets an early 3-0 lead. After Lugo struck out the first batter he faced, it was clear he had nothing on the mound.

He allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs to give back the lead as quickly as the Mets got it. After allowing a Jean Segura triple, Adam Haseley drove him in to give the Phillies a 4-3 first-inning lead. Lugo allowed another two runs in the second inning and had to be replaced with Erasmo Ramirez.

Uphill Battle

The Mets bullpen gave them everything they needed and more for the second straight night. Ramirez started with 2.1 shutout innings, Chasen Shreve followed with another 2.1 scoreless innings. During that period, a Pete Alonso solo homer and Brandon Nimmo‘s two-run triple got the Mets even with the Phillies in the sixth.

After Jeurys Familia got through the seventh, he ran into trouble in the eighth. Justin Wilson came in for a third straight game an showed the ill-effects of all the work. Wilson could not locate anything and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases. Luckily he found the strike zone on one pitch to get Didi Gregorius to pop out and survive the eighth.

The Mets offense came alive in the ninth inning. Nimmo led off the ninth with a home run, Smith had an RBI triple, and Cano capped it off with a two-run home run. Things did not come easy for Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. He was also in for the third straight day but worked around three walks, getting the Mets a big win.

On Friday, the Mets begin a three-game weekend series against the Atlanta Braves. Steven Matz makes his return to the rotation and faces Cy Young candidate Max Fried. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: 10 Run Fourth Inning, Gives deGrom Plenty in 18-1 Win

Worrying about the New York Mets providing Jacob deGrom run support seems to be a thing of the past. Their 18-run effort gave more than enough for their two-time Cy Young winner in the 18-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

deGrom did not have his best command but put up deGrom-like numbers. He threw six innings, holding the Blue Jays to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. deGrom continues to make a strong case for a third consecutive Cy Young award as his ERA dropped to 1.67.

Erasmo Ramirez picked up the rare three-inning save in relief of deGrom. Ramirez held the Jays offense scoreless on two hits and only threw 30 pitches in the effort. His ERA is 1.13 through his first eight innings with the Mets.

Relentless Offense

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s RBI single in the first inning was the only bright spot for the Blue Jays. After that, the Mets got things going with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a Michael Conforto three-run home run.

The offense went bezerk in the fourth inning with ten runs. J.D. Davis started things off with an RBI fielders choice, then Dominic Smith hit a grand slam to break the game open to 9-1. Wilson Ramos contributed a three-run double, making it 12-1. The final two runs of the inning came in on a Conforto single, and Davis double.

Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit other than Pete Alonso. McNeil, Ramos, and Robinson Cano led the way with their three hits. 8 of the Mets 19 hits were for extra bases, and those same numbers (8-for-19) are how they hit with runners in scoring position.

The Mets hope to put up another similar offensive output with Seth Lugo on the mound for the second game of the series. Toronto has not named their starter for game two, but game time is 6:37 p.m. ET from Buffalo.