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Mets: How Dominic Smith became a fan favorite in New York

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: Dominic Smith #22 of the New York Mets celebrates after hitting a walk-off 3-run home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on September 29, 2019 in New York City. New York Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-6. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: Dominic Smith #22 of the New York Mets celebrates after hitting a walk-off 3-run home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on September 29, 2019 in New York City. New York Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-6. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t long ago when New York Mets fans had trouble loving Dominic Smith. In 2019, he became a fan favorite for his high-level of play and team-first attitude.

Can you believe at one point Dominic Smith was not a beloved member of the New York Mets? The former highly-touted prospect of the Amazins became a new and more mature man in 2019, ultimately concluding the season with a memorable walk-off home run and a cemented spot as a fan favorite in Flushing.

Smith’s reputation with the fans wasn’t always so pleasant. After his poor performances in 2017 and 2018, many Mets fans were ready to pay the Uber price to get him out of town.

Things changed drastically for Smith and his relationship with the fans in 2019. Not all only did he play well but he also came to the field with a much better attitude.

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Smith ended the season slashing .282/.355/.525 in 197 plate appearances. Used primarily as a pinch-hitter early on, his acceptance that first base belonged to Pete Alonso made fans appreciate him more.

Even after his fielding faux pas in left field against the San Francisco Giants, fans were a little more forgiving of Smith. Everyone knew he was playing out of his element and not where he belonged in the field. He got a slight pass because everyone knew first base was his primary position.

Nobody was about to boot Alonso from it, though.

A less secure player may have spoken up about a lack of playing time early on in 2019. Keon Broxton did when he realized his starts in center field weren’t as plentiful as he was hoping for.

Smith refrained from speaking out against the situation. Instead, he embraced his role. He cheered on Alonso and the rest of his teammates from the bench.

Then came the worst news possible. A late July foot injury sidelined Smith for two months. Just as he was beginning to play regularly, Smith was hurt and his season was lost.

This didn’t stop Smith from engaging with his teammates and the fans. His famous “wheel” onto the field after a Michael Conforto walk-off hit became an instant classic photo for Mets fans to fall in love with.

All Smith had to do in 2019 during those final two months is show that he was a member of this team. It sounds easy. It isn’t always so simple for all athletes.

Even as a man on an extended IL stint, his voice mattered. Smith led by example despite not being viewed as one of the team’s leaders.

Next. Which Mets pitcher is the social media king?

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While covering the Mets in 2018, I never expected Smith would become one of the members of this team fans really liked. Smith showed his personality last year and it was nothing but generous. He could have easily gone a different route. Instead, he welcomed every challenge and reminded everyone that baseball is a team sport.

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