With the 11th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Mets selected first baseman Dominic Smith from Junipero Serra High School. From that moment on, all eyes were on Smith to one day become not only a regular in the starting lineup but a star.
Well, during the COVID-19 pandemic shortened 2020 season, it appeared as if it was finally happening. In 50 games, Smith hit for a career-high .316 batting average while batting in 42 runs. Just like that, it seemed as if the former top prospect had finally arrived.
However, things have gone a bit different to start 2021. His batting average has dipped below .270, with an underwhelming OPS of .689 through 45 games. Obviously, these are not the numbers Smith hinted at last season.
Nonetheless, that does not mean that the 2020 season was a fluke for Dominic Smith. He is a core player for the Mets, and without a doubt is only getting started in 2021…
Dominic Smith wants to be great at the plate for the Mets
It goes without saying that every MLB player wants to be great. Unfortunately, the face of the matter is not everyone gets to be.
For Smith, if he did not have the desire to succeed in Queens, he already would have been off the team. After all, does nobody remember when he owned a .259 on-base percentage through his first two seasons?
Over the next two seasons, Smith played in 139 games, hitting 21 home runs and for a .299 batting average. It goes without saying those numbers are amazing, yet that was over two years where he had 177 at-bats each. Now as an everyday starter, that is nothing but a sample size compared to the hundreds he is set to have.
That being said, there was bound to be an adjustment period for Smith. Like the entire Mets offense, it took Smith a while to get going at the plate. Except it appears Smith is settling into his role as a focal point in their lineup.
Over his last 15 games, Smith’s on-base percentage is at .400, including 16 hits in his last 50 at-bats. He may not be a power-hitting first baseman, but Smith is focused simply on getting on base. Something that the Mets need more than anything given their struggles to start the year scoring runs.
Clearly, Smith is only getting started with the bat and will continue to hit as the summer begins.
Strong defense out in left field
Yes, Smith is a first baseman at heart. Just with Pete Alonso at first, in order to stay in the lineup, Smith has had to become a left fielder.
In the past, Smith has struggled mightily anywhere that has not been first base. Entering this season, he had been in the negatives in defensive runs saved, no matter where he was in the outfield.
This season has been a different story. Already, he has one defensive run saved, certainly more than anyone could have predicted coming into the year. Not to mention, Smith has yet to have an error either in 2021.
For the first time in years, defense has been a strong suit for the Mets. And whether or not he gets the credit, the work Dominic Smith put into improving his glove has played a massive role in the defensive turnaround.
Dominic Smith is the heart of the team
No, the 2021 season has not gone as planned for the Mets. An unprecedented number of injuries have stripped the team of some of their top players, except Smith has remained a staple in the lineup.
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As the Amazins’ get healthy, Smith is getting hot. With the team looking to expand their hold on first place in the beaten-up National League East, Smith will be a focal point in the Mets lineup. And it certainly is a joy to watch how far he has come since his early-year mishaps in the majors.