This Spring Training contrasts with last year’s Spring Training for Dominic Smith.
Smith does not have to worry about being a platoon player. There’s no need for him to be concerned about him starting the season with the minors. He does not have to deal with trade rumors. Shoot, he does not have to answer whether he is overweight or not.
This is what happens when he hit .316 with 10 home runs, 56 hits, and 42 RBIs to show for it last season. He played well to earn everyday playing time. Now, he turns out to be a sure thing than a question mark heading to the 2021 season. His performance makes him a foundation piece for the Mets.
Here’s how good his season was last season: Scouts preferred him over Pete Alonso at first base in a survey that the New York Post conducted last year. I know a friend who mentioned that he thinks Smith may be a better player than Alonso.
Smith does more than hit home runs. He can drive in runs by getting base hits. Rather than swing for the fences, he uses the field to get on base. With Alonso, it appears he is more of a home run or bust. Think Dave Kingman. It’s easy to understand why scouts are in love with Smith than Alonso in the long run.
Smith always had potential, which is why the Mets drafted him. They knew he had a good swing. But it didn’t come easy for him. He struggled by striking out when he debuted in the majors. Part of the problem stems from him having sleep apnea at the time.
To his credit, he kept working on his craft, and everything clicked for him last season.
He proved that baseball could be mental in the sense what doesn’t kill a player makes him stronger. His work ethic served him well. His season resulted in him having confidence heading to this season.
Combining ability and grit make Smith a reliable player in 2021 and beyond.
Smith continues to find ways to be even better. He spent time chatting with Barry Bonds, who knows a thing or two about hitting. He talked to Bonds about what he can do to improve his swing.
There’s hope he can improve on his home run total with more playing time and experience.
He’s even working on his defense as a left fielder. It’s not his natural position, but this has to do with Alonso is not losing his gig at first base. He had his ups and downs playing in the outfield. It’s a credit to him that he was willing to play in the outfield to be in the lineup.
For Smith to do well, it’s encouraging for him and the Mets. He makes the Mets lineup even better when pitchers can’t pitch around Alonso or Michael Conforto to get to him. Having Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor serve as table setters for Alonso, Conforto and Smith make this lineup tough to face other pitchers.
Not only is it a credit to him, but it’s a credit to the Mets for developing him to be a fine player. The Mets have done a fine job of producing good offensive players lately.
What will Smith do for an encore? That question provides intrigue for this season. He can do better than hitting 10 home runs that he hit last season. From reading Baseball-Reference.com, he is projected to hit 22 home runs and driving in 71 runs this coming season. The Mets would definitely take that type of production for sure.
There’s a lesson to be learned for young prospects out there that they can take from Smith.
It’s about keeping on working and learning; approach the game with an even-keel approach and learn through video.
There’s also something to be said about patience, which is considered taboo these days in a society everyone wants it now. Smith didn’t have to wait that long to perform, but in baseball, it takes such a long process until a player comes into his own.
Not many players start as Mike Trout did when he entered the Major League baseball scene in 2011 as a 19-year old kid.
Smith ignored the noise, and now it’s paying off.
For him and the Mets, they are both thankful.
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