If you’re a fan of the New York Mets and ready to give up on Dominic Smith, don’t. There’s still hope for the young first baseman.
Dominic Smith got his first taste of big league baseball with the New York Mets this season, and it was a little bit of a mixed bag. His power appeared in a big way, cracking nine home runs in just 49 games, a 30 home run pace as a rookie. However, he struggled otherwise, hitting only .198.
He was a little shaky defensively, despite only committing two errors. He seemed to have several mental lapses on the field, which was surprising considering his defensive reputation before his call-up. However, he wouldn’t be the first rookie to struggle defensively early in his career.
But what really stuck out about Smith, and what shows that he can have success in the major leagues, was his ability to hit in the clutch.
He collected 26 RBI over his 49 games, which is good for an 86 RBI pace over 162 games, and he did so in a pretty bad lineup. With more protection around him, not to mention more runners on base to drive in, that rate should climb even higher.
He slashed .283/.306/.565 with runners in scoring position. Despite hitting below the Mendoza Line for the season, he was very respectable with runners in scoring position.
He hit four of his nine home runs with men on base. He took 46 at-bats with runners in scoring position and only grounded into a double play once.
So often young players struggle in clutch situations. They already have the pressure of trying to prove that they belong in the major leagues, and are then adding the pressure of hitting in a high-leverage situation on top of that. Some players simply can’t handle the pressure.
Smith’s RBI totals, as well as his ability to hit with runners in scoring position, shows that he can.
Athletes live for the big moments, the chance to play the hero, and it’s important for a young ball player to show that they aren’t afraid to be the guy that to have the bat in high leverage situations.
Hitting is all about stepping up when it really matters. There’s an old saying that the best way to win baseball games is good pitching, good fielding, and timely hitting.
While home runs have taken some of the timely hitting and made it less important, it still rings true, especially on the Mets. If the rotation and the big bats in the lineup, like Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, can stay healthy, this team is built to win.
The most important thing for the offense is to take advantage of their chances to drive runs in. The staff, when healthy, is good enough to carry the team. The offense needs players who can get it done in the clutch.
Smith showed during his brief cameo in the majors that he can. His game may not be fully polished yet, and he needs to figure out major league pitching, but he absolutely has the mindset to make it in the majors.
No moment is too big for Dominic Smith. And that is why you can be confident that he will have success next season.