Dominic Smith is learning how to play the outfield on the fly. Are the New York Mets setting him up to fail?
Whether they realize it or not, the New York Mets may have put Dominic Smith in a position to fail. He’s playing a new position in left field after spending nearly his entire professional career at first base.
Imagine, your boss comes up to you and says your job assignments have changed. Whatever industry you work in, there’s an adjustment period.
Smith had only a limited opportunity in the minor leagues to begin learning the outfield. Due to the Jay Bruce injury, he’ll have to accelerate the learning curve and discover how to play outfield in the big leagues rather quickly.
I wonder if the Mets are better off putting him in right field instead of left field. I understand left field is the spot where you hide the outfielder with the weakest arm. However, Smith is going from one extreme side of the field to the other. Visually, this may lead to some confusion.
Smith is already a bad defensive player so the expectations aren’t too high for him in the outfield. Though he’ll never win a Gold Glove, we can hope he makes most of the routine plays and tracks down as many balls as the veterans on this team.
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A part of me would like to see the Mets get creative. Several teams, including the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, have shifted their players between positions depending on the batter. The more logical part of me knows this would only create more problems for Smith. His bat isn’t good enough to keep confusing him on defense.
There is no easy answer to this. Smith will either sink or swim at his new position. And by swim, it’s most likely a floating doggy-paddle.
To their credit, the Mets have given Smith a chance to make their major league roster albeit in a different role than expected. He’s clearly not starting first baseman material. The future at the position is up for grabs with Peter Alonso as the favorite.
Maybe the blame shouldn’t go to the 2018 Mets. Instead, it’s the lack of foresight. Smith was never a talented enough hitter to become the everyday first baseman.
The Mets waited entirely too long for him to learn a new position. Even if they are patient with him and allow the growing pains to continue throughout the year, they’ve delayed him becoming a productive member of this roster.
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Smith may never develop into a good MLB hitter. Unfortunately, the switch to the outfield may turn him into a two-way problem.