New York Mets young first baseman Dominic Smith found failure in his MLB debut, but 2018 offers him his a shot at Aaron Judge-type redemption.
The year is 2013. The New York Mets are in the midst of yet another down year. In 2012, the team managed to disappoint with a paltry record of 74-88.
The only silver lining that Mets fans could take from yet another letdown in the course of a long-term rebuild was the Mets’ draft picks. Their poor performance on the diamond awarded the organization the 11th pick in the 2013 draft.
It was with that pick that the Mets selected high school first baseman Dominic Smith. It was 21 picks later, 32nd overall, that the New York Yankees selected Aaron Judge.
“Wow, what a miss by the Mets, Judge was the Rookie of the Year and MVP runner up this season,” is probably what you are thinking or complaining about on Twitter right now.
And it’s true: the Mets very well may have invested in a player who will be out of the league in five years, while Judge continues to hit 50 home runs and be a franchise cornerstone in the Bronx for the foreseeable future.
Yet, people seem to ignore the fact that there’s also a chance Smith blossoms into a franchise cornerstone for the Mets.
Sure, it’s safe to say Smith might not approach 35 home runs, let alone 50. But, who’s to say Smith will never drive in 114 runs? Or hit for a .284 average?
The narrative on Dominic Smith seems to have already been cemented amongst the Mets and their fans. They are practically ready to run this guy out of town for Adam Lind. ADAM LIND!
Mets reportedly considering Adam Lind after GM Sandy Alderson says Dominic Smith would have to win first base job, via @CRedRojo https://t.co/utJPEgX560 pic.twitter.com/9793reVsYu
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) November 27, 2017
Let’s play a quick comparison game. Here’s a blind comparison of two young players’ debuts in New York:
Player A: 27 games, .179/.263/.345, 10 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 42 SO
Player B: 46 games, .198/.262/.395, 17 R, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 49 SO
Player A is Aaron Judge and Player B is Dominic Smith. It’s funny how much of a difference one season can make. Smith hit for a higher average, OPS, and displayed more power than Judge in their respective MLB “cup of tea” seasons.
In no capacity am I saying Smith will hit 52 home runs in 2018, or be a the MVP runner-up. I’m not even predicting a Rookie of the Year win here.
I am predicting that Smith has the ability to be a successful MLB first baseman. What if the Yankees had given up on Judge after 2016?
Judge outlines his debut struggles in this article by the New York Post. The root cause for his disappointing showcase was due to a lack of strike zone recognition and pitch selection.
These problems happen to also be present in Smith’s short MLB career. In 2017, Smith’s strikeout percentage was at 26.8 percent in the MLB compared to just 17.4 percent in the minors.
It could simply be that Smith, like Judge, had to make an adjustment to the game speed in the MLB, which consequently pushed him to expand his strike zone and swing at balls. This makes a world of more sense than the narratives that have been created to explain their failures.
The narrative on Judge was he was too tall, and he struck out way too much. There was a “hole” in his swing. With Smith the narrative revolves around his weight, which may be true or it could be false. Either way he’s working to fix it.
#Mets' Dominic Smith as a much SLIMMER version of himself in 2018? Sign us up. https://t.co/VKoHYXBsR6
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) November 30, 2017
There are a bunch of factors in the decision to let Smith play first base in 2018. They include: his commitment to getting in shape, his first-round talent, his progression in every professional season, and his contract.
All of these factors point towards the Mets giving Smith his shot in 2018. He deserves the chance to reward his organization’s commitment, just like Aaron Judge rewarded the Yankees.