Dominic Smith has gotten off to a nice start with the New York Mets at Spring Training. Unfortunately, it will take a lot more “Dom Bombs” for him to make the Opening Day roster.
Just when we thought Dominic Smith couldn’t become any more irrelevant to the future of the New York Mets, he goes out and gets off to a hot start in Spring Training. Granted, these games me as much as points in Whose Line Is Anyway. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see.
Smith hit his first home run of exhibition action on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’ll need plenty more before the final decisions are made before he has any shot at making the Opening Day roster.
Spring Training statistics don’t tell as much about a player’s future. Last year, Luis Guillorme slashed .306/.447/.417 during preseason action. When he received regular season at-bats, he looked outmatched nearly every single time he stepped up to the plate. Pete Alonso, on the other hand, hit only .133/.278/.133 during his spring action in 2018.
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It’s Alonso who is fighting hardest with Smith for the first base job this year. Alonso has hit well, too, but the idea of holding him in the minor leagues for the extra year of control is certainly tempting.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen has continuously said he wants the best 25 players in the organization on the Opening Day roster. We’ll have to see it to believe it.
The Mets may have no choice but to put Smith on the Opening Day roster depending on when Todd Frazier becomes available. The veteran corner infielder was expected to shift from third base to first base this season, at least until Alonso was promoted. An oblique injury may spoil that opportunity, meaning Smith moves up the depth chart and breaks Adrian Gonzalez’s current Mets streak of one Opening Day start at first base.
Working in Smith’s favor is how much better he is defensively than Alonso and other candidates for the job. In many ways, he brings skills Alonso doesn’t have. While Alonso could indeed hit 40 home runs and post a lower batting average, the ceiling for Smith has included minimal power and an average approaching .300. Those expectations have been tempered over the past two seasons as Smith continuously struggled at the big league level.
Smith won’t turn 24 until June. There’s plenty of reasons to doubt him yet a few more to convince us there’s time to develop into a better player. A surprising fact to same, Alonso is six months older than Smith.
The real problem I see here is that neither first baseman appears capable of manning another position on the field. The Mets did experiment with Smith in left field last year and the results were incredibly poor.
There will be a resolution to this question and it will take a lot of “Dom Bombs” in spring to make him the winner in this competition.
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It doesn’t make much sense to carry two first basemen on a National League team for any period of time. Because of this, I don’t expect we see Smith and Alonso sharing a locker room when the Mets leave Florida.