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: Pete Alonso underperformed against fastballs in 2020

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets, despite failing to qualify to the playoffs, boasted one of the best offensive units in the league. They were among the leaders in wRC+ and their lineup didn’t have too much trouble producing runs.

However, the sophomore season wasn’t so smooth for first baseman Pete Alonso. The Mets’ slugger was the Rookie of the Year in the National League in 2019, and he set a record for most home runs for a first-year player with 53.

While he hit homers at a similar pace this season (16 in 57 games), his overall production fell off a cliff. In 2019, he slashed .260/.358/.583 with a .384 wOBA and a 143 wRC+, but this year, he was at .231/.326/.490 with a .342 wOBA and a 119 wRC+.

The New York Mets’ star had a horrible first July/August, with .213/.333/.385, a .309 wOBA and a 97 wRC+. Thankfully, he improved in September (.256/.316/.640, .391 wOBA, 151 wRC+) and was more like the player we know he is.

So, why did he struggle in 2020? His 90.7 mph 2019 average exit velocity was similar to that of this year, 90.2 mph. His BB% and K% were also similar (10.4 BB% in 2019, 10.0 in 2020; 26.4 K% in 2019, 25.0 K% this year.) So what changed?

The Mets are hoping it was just small sample size noise

Alonso, who is still among the New York Mets’ most important players for the future, performed at a similar level against breaking balls in 2019 and 2020. Last year, he had a .292 wOBA against sliders and curveballs, and while the number went down to .278 in 2020, it isn’t a significant dropoff.

However, if we examine his numbers against fastballs, we see a significant collapse. His wOBA against the pitch was .358 in 2020, a rather mediocre mark considering his abilities and the fact that he finished with a .438 wOBA against heaters in 2019. Alonso slugged .513 against them in 2020, a far cry off the .669 mark of 2019.

His expected batting average versus fastballs was .237 this season. It was .286 last year.

It could be small sample size noise. It could a timing issue. Either way, the Mets will be expecting Alonso to make the proper adjustments and start punishing fastballs again in 2021.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: First Baseman Pete Alonso

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

Pete Alonso‘s rookie season for the New York Mets was nearly impossible to duplicate. He hit 53 home runs, won the home run derby and rookie of the year. The combination of tough luck and lack of plate discipline caused him to underachieve during the 2020 season.

Alonso struggled mightily during the first third of the season, only batting .197. Though he walked at a good rate, he only had two home runs through the season’s first 18 games. His defense also suffered from it, which caused him to see more time at designated hitter.

The following 20 games were filled with inconsistency. At times, it looked like he was becoming the 2019 Alonso, and during others, he looked completely lost. Over his next 20 games, he hit six home runs but only batted .222. Part of his unlucky season comes from a .204 BABIP, where he would have line drives sucked up by the shift.

Return to Form

Alonso’s struggles came from him over swinging, overthinking, and swinging outside of his strike zone. The over swinging came from him trying to replicate his home run output. His strength is at the top of the league, and using his natural swing will allow him to access his full field power.

The overthinking came during at-bats where he would let fastballs in the zone go by then chase offspeed pitches outside of the zone to strikeout. It also led to him spending the year around the .200 mark with runners in scoring position. Lastly, he spent a lot of time chasing pitches up in the zone that he cannot hit. Alonso only had a slugging percentage of .167 on pitches up and in for a strike and .200 on pitches up and away for a strike.

In five of the other seven squares in the strike zone, he slugged over .500. The adjustments showed over the final 19 games where slashed .271/.338/.657 with eight home runs. While the walk rate dropped, the strikeouts did as well since he was making solid contact. Should this have been a longer season, we would have seen his numbers improve to where the slump would be a forgotten part of the season.

2021 Improvements

While his defense took a step back during his sophomore slump, expect it to return to where it was in 2019. If there is a designated hitter in 2021, Alonso will play first less due to Smith’s emergence. He finished the season on a six-game hitting streak and looked like the complete hitter he was during his amazing rookie season. There were worries early in the 60-game sprint, but there is no reason to doubt a big season from Alonso in 2021.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 35 (55), Having Chili Davis back in the locker room will make a big difference

Power: 80 (80), Still one of the best in the power department. Still finished tied for third in the NL, despite the struggles.

Run: 30 (30), Very good baserunning instincts for a player who lacks speed

Arm: 50 (50)

Field: 30 (40), The hard worker Alonso is will definitely show the stepback on defense was a fluke

Overall: 55 (70), Expect nothing short of greatness in 2021

New York Mets: Only Fitting For A Blowout To End The Wilpon’s Reign

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

Mediocrity is the first word that comes to mind in the broken marriage between the New York Mets and the Wilpon ownership. Their decisions, hirings, and lousy PR led to the Mets becoming the laughing stock of baseball and the butt of every joke. The Mets 15-5 loss to the Washington Nationals closed an ugly 18 years of Wilpon majority ownership.

Seth Lugo likely made his final start as a Met in which he allowed six runs and did not make it out of the second inning. The lack of quality starting rotation depth put the Mets in a situation where they had to force Lugo to be a starter. Should the Mets fix their pitching rotation, Lugo would play very well in his natural bullpen role.

Early Rout

This game was pretty well decided when the Nats had 11 runs after the third inning concluded. Brad Brach and Steven Matz concluded their poor seasons with poor outings, allowing the Nationals to put the game away. Dellin Betances also continued the trend when he made his second outing off the IL. Jeurys Familia was the only reliever to complete two innings without allowing a run and finished his season with a 3.71 ERA.

The two bright spots came from the bats of Pete Alonso and Guillermo Heredia. Alonso had three hits, including two home runs, to finish up the season on a good note. Heredia had two hits and drove in two runs as he hopes to earn an invite to camp in 2021.

The Mets finished their season at 26-34, tied for last place in the NL East. They fell under the .500 mark seven games into the season and never climbed out of that hole in their disappointing season. Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson inherit a broken organization, filled with potential. With their window to win still wide open, expect the front office to revamp this roster for the 2021 season.

New York Mets: Nats Sweep Doubleheader to End Mets Playoff Hopes

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets needed an amazing start from Jacob deGrom to keep their postseason hopes alive, but he was only average on Saturday. In game one of the doubleheader, the Washington Nationals won 4-3 and took game two 5-3 against the struggling Rick Porcello. It became the fourth consecutive season that the Mets missed the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom came out firing bullets in the first inning. He hit 102 mph with his fastball, the fastest pitch of his career, and tying the fastest pitch of the season. deGrom ran into trouble from the third inning on, as he lost command, allowing a run in each of the final three innings he pitched. While striking out 10, his ERA went up to 2.38 and knocked out his chances of winning the Cy Young.

The Mets offense got to Max Scherzer early with a two-run home run from Wilson Ramos and a solo homer from Amed Rosario. Unfortunately, the Mets offense went dead late in the game as they left the lead run at third with one out in the sixth inning. Back-to-back strikeouts killed the rally and were followed by the Nationals taking the lead in the bottom half of the inning.

The Mets also lost Andres Gimenez to an oblique injury, which caused Rosario to enter the game. Dominic Smith also suffered a crushing blow, running face-first into the left-field fence. It allowed Andrew Stevenson to round the bases for an inside the park home run for his second homer of the game.

Porcello Struggles Again in Game Two

Rick Porcello towed the rubber for a meaningless game two of the doubleheader. He could not replicate the success from his last start allowing five runs over three innings. All the Nationals runs came in the third inning, as ten men went to the plate.

After the game, Porcello was disappointed in his poor season. He likely will not remain with the Mets for next season, and it is hard to see him landing with another contender in 2021. Porcello was not the only disappointed Mets starter as deGrom also voiced his frustrations with the underachieving Mets.

The Mets offense struggled outside of Pete Alonso. He hit a line-drive home run, which added to a good rebound day at the plate. Alonso showed better discipline at the plate and emphasized hitting the ball hard instead of just hitting it in the air.

Seth Lugo gets the final start of the season as he faces off against Austin Voth. Game 60 starts at 3:05 p.m. ET from Nationals Park as the Mets hope to avoid last place.

 

New York Mets: Pete Alonso says luck hasn’t been on his side this year

The New York Mets are still fighting for a spot in the playoffs, but it is looking more and more unlikely with each passing day. They are in a very bad position because the pitching depth couldn’t stand so many injuries, inconsistencies, ineffectiveness and opt outs. But they have only gotten league average production from Pete Alonso, arguably the team’s most potent bat.

Before Wednesday’s games, the Mets’ slugger has a .209/.306/.435 line with a .313 wOBA and a 99 wRC+. Those numbers are a far cry from what he did on the 2019 season: .260/.358/.583 with a .384 wOBA and a 143 wRC+, plus 53 homers.

After hitting a home run in the New York Mets’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, Alonso suggested to local media that he has been somewhat unlucky this year.

“I’m hitting the ball hard, but I’ve had some pretty bad luck, hitting the ball right at guys,” he said to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. He may be right to some degree, but the difference between his wOBA (.297) and xwOBA (.316) is not so big.

The Mets’ star will keep trying

He was hitless in his last 13 at-bats coming into Tuesday’s game, but went 2-for-3 with three RBI and the 13th home run of his season. “Every time I go up in the box, it’s nine against one,” Alonso said. “Baseball is tough, and it’s a game of failure. And for me, I’m never going to give up, that’s the thing. I never give up on myself, I never give up on my teammates, and until the last out is made, I’m busting it,” he said to SNY.

“I’m doing the best I can, I’m playing as hard as I can. That’s one thing I take pride in, regardless of any outcomes, I still hustle, I still play the games right, and I still try to be the best teammate I can be… Ultimately, this is my job. I got no other choice but to keep going and just keep going in with the best attitude possible and trying to compete and win each day.”

His homer came off All-Star lefty Blake Snell, and more importantly, it helped the Mets win a ballgame. “All you can focus on is winning today, and putting your best foot forward,” he said. “And today is a great day, and I’ll take that every day of the week.”

New York Mets: Offense Backs Lugo in 5-2 Victory Over Rays

The New York Mets get a good starting pitching effort for the fourth consecutive night. This one against the Tampa Bay Rays came from Seth Lugo, who desperately needed one after his rough outing against the Phillies. The Mets offense also woke up to support Lugo in their 5-2 victory.

Lugo found the handle on his curveball early in this start. It eluded him over the last two starts, but his equalizer was the curve against the weak Rays offense. Lugo pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned), and striking out seven. Out of 95 pitches, 66 were strikes, and he produces plenty of uncomfortable swings.

Solving Snell

Blake Snell had one of the best starts of his career when he faced the Mets back in 2018. He came into his start without allowing any runs in the first two innings of the game during 2020. Robinson Cano changed that with his solo home run on an extremely high fastball in the second. Cano tomahawked the ball into the left-field corner, and it was the highest pitch hit for a home run this season.

Pete Alonso‘s solo home run in the fourth and RBI single in the sixth provided the other two runs against Snell. Alonso also contributed an RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth. Guillermo Heredia‘s first home run as a Met was sandwiched between Alonso’s RBI chances.

It was a much-needed game from Alonso, who was threatening to fall into the interstate with his batting average. Alonso’s swing looked calmer and relaxed instead of his typical swing, which caused him to be off-balanced.

The bullpen trio of Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, and Edwin Diaz silenced the Rays bats for 2.2 innings after Lugo left the game. Wilson kept the tying run from scoring in the seventh, Shreve struck out the side in the eighth, and Diaz picked up his fifth save of the season. Diaz lowered his season ERA to a magnificent 1.50 on the season.

The Mets hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with Michael Wacha on the mound in the rubber match of the series. He opposes the fireballer Tyler Glasnow for the 7:10 p.m. ET start 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: Disappointing as Ever in 4-1 Loss to Phillies

New York Mets, Brandon Nimmo

The New York Mets needed to take game one of their series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Much like they have all season, they disappointed and forgot to show up in their 4-1 loss. They beat themselves in every way a team possibly, adding more pain to their season.

It was precisely the type of game we have come to expect from the lackluster Mets. They stunk with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-6 in those situations and leaving 12 on base. As usual, team disappointments, Wilson Ramos and Pete Alonso each left five on base on their own.

The poor play translated to their baserunning and fielding as well. With manager Luis Rojas at the helm and working with plenty of these players in the minors, it is tough to see a team he manages play poorly. After another infuriating loss, it is all but confirmed that the Mets will not make the playoffs this season.

The lone Mets run came from a Brandon Nimmo solo-home run. Everything else for the Mets offense was ugly as can be. Another ugly detail from the game was how much of a better manager Joe Girardi is compared to Luis Rojas. Thankfully the incompetent fools who opted against Girardi are selling the team to Steve Cohen.

Porcello Struggles Again

Rick Porcello was signed as the Mets number five starter and unfortunately had higher expectations with a poor Mets rotation. He allowed four runs over six innings pitched, keeping his ERA above six. Porcello was the worst starting pitcher in baseball during 2019, so his 2020 performance should be no surprise.

A bright spot comes in Edwin Diaz‘s performance, where he struck out the side in the ninth inning. His ERA dropped to 1.80, but the Mets never give themselves a lead where they can use him to win. The loss to the Phillies was their sixth in eight games.

On Wednesday, the Mets send Jacob deGrom to the mound against the Phillies. The focus moves on to the Cy Young race as the first pitch is another 7:05 p.m. ET start from Citizens Bank Park.

 

Two New York Mets stars are heating up just in time!

For much of the season, the New York Mets‘ offense was kept afloat thanks to the efforts of Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and even Andres Gimenez, among others. However, we know it can be even better if two specific performers start living up to the expectations around them.

Pete Alonso, the major league home run leader in 2019 and National League Rookie of the Year, and Jeff McNeil, the man capable of mashing over .300 points of average and a 20-homer pace, are starting to come around at the plate, just in time as the New York Mets try to make a late playoff push.

Alonso’s average is still relatively low at .234 (he hit .260 in his first year) but is now up to 11 homers for the season. From September 2 to this date, the Polar Bear has a .345/.406/.897 line with a 236 wRC+, a 6.3 BB%, a 15.6 K%, one double, five homers, seven RBI and eight runs scored.

The Polar Bear is back for the Mets

Pete’s resurgence offers hope to a Mets’ team that badly needs reasons to believe they can be in the playoff hunt at this point. They are in fourth place in the NL East division with a 20-24 record, 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves and only a handful behind the last wild card spot.

Meanwhile, McNeil was homerless for the season as of September 5. However, he has left the year in four consecutive games including last night, and now has a stellar, more Squirrel-like .315/.388/.496 line with a .376 wOBA and a 139 wRC+.

The Mets’ versatile hitting machine has been especially hot since August 28, with a .385/.458/.750 line, a 218 wRC+, a 10.2 BB% and a 10.2 K%, adding the four home runs.

In these two men, the New York Mets have to standout offensive performers that add two more weapons and lengthen an already dangerous lineup. Let’s see if they have enough time to string some victories, reach .500 ball, and go from there.