Something happened which caused Dominic Smith to fall out of favor with Sandy Alderson.
We may never know exactly what it was, but Sandy was angry. The Mets’ former GM was asked if Dominic Smith would have to win the first base job in Spring Training last year. “He didn’t win it in September, let’s put it that way,”
Alderson didn’t stop there. He said that Smith would have to be careful in regards to his conditioning.
Let’s be clear. Dominic Smith did not hit the ground running after his call-up in 2017. Although he did hit 9 homeruns in less than 200 at-bats, he struck out in roughly half his plate appearances. The glove, which was cited as one of his strengths, was also shaky at times.
Now, it’s only natural for teams to have internal concerns about young players. It’s a little bizarre; however, to share those concerns with the world.
Maybe it could serve as a wakeup call to a young player. Maybe it could motivate them. But if you read comments like that and then hear that the Mets made Adrian Gonzalez the starting first baseman — are you trading for Dominic Smith?
Well, the comments may have killed Smith’s perceived value around the league, but they did motivate Smith. The first baseman lost 30 pounds and showed up to camp looking like a new person.
Then his alarm clock didn’t go off.
Smith was late to the first day of spring training. After one plate appearance, he suffered a quad injury, all but handing the first base job to Adrian Gonzalez on a silver platter.
Sandy Alderson did some good things during his tenure in New York. However, he liked to do this funny little bit where he would routinely have players attempt to learn unfamiliar positions at the major league level.
I guess we can’t knock him for it too much. We did go the World Series in 2015, with Wilmer Flores as our starting shortstop. But I could never wrap my head around Dominic Smith in the outfield.
Early in 2018, Brandon Nimmo was sent to the minor leagues so a struggling Jay Bruce could play right field everyday. Later in 2018, Dominic Smith was sent to the outfield so a struggling Jay Bruce could play first base.
The deck was really stacked against Smith. The drastic weight loss had sapped his power. Now, he was learning a new position while trying to find his way at the plate again.
This went largely unnoticed as the Mets were playing out another lost season, but Smith played well after being called up from Las Vegas on August 19th.
64 PA, .279/.313/.574, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 6 2B, 3 BB, 8 R, 140 wRC+
Another obstacle popped up in Smith’s path though.
Pete Alonso. The slugging first baseman took the minor leagues by storm last year, hitting 36 homeruns. He also made Dominic Smith an afterthought. Suddenly, it was Alonso who was being called the future first baseman of the Mets.
Fast forward to 2019 Spring Training.
Dominic Smith is hitting .458 with 1.144 OPS. He’s addressed a sleep apnea issue and looks more energetic than ever.
Pete Alonso is still the talk of the town. And rightfully so. By all accounts he’s one of the hardest working players in Florida.
It’s just nice to see Dominic Smith back in the conversation.