After tumbling out the gates to start the 2021 season, Dominic Smith’s recent hot streak has been a key reason the New York Mets have charged to the top of the National League East.
Smith is 7-for-17 in his last six games played (.411 BA) and slugging around 600. to raise his season average near .260. He’s beginning to look like the player who many believed had finally arrived during the 2020 Covid-shortened season.
Dominic Smith went nearly two full months between this homer and his last one on 4/13. Had to feel good in general, but it had to feel a little extra good because that baby wasn’t a cheap one. #Mets#LGM (via @Mets) pic.twitter.com/5Y2tox4mBd
And while hitting is what gets him paid, Smith’s improvements on defense should have Mets fans extremely excited about the future.
A first baseman by trade, Smith has been forced to learn a new position with the emergence of slugging first basemen Pete Alonso (The 2019 NL Rookie of the Year). And for a while, things looked bleak for Smith in the outfield.
Coming into this season, Smith had played 470 1/3 innings in left field, and the results during that time left much to be desired.
There’s a plethora of metrics — that would take most folks hours to understand — that’s used to determine how good a particular player is defensively.
The two important metrics to look at here are Outs Above Average and Defensive Run Saved.
Outs Above Average is a ranged base metric of skill that shows how many outs a player has saved, while Defensive runs saved quantifies a player’s entire defensive performance by attempting to measure how many runs a defender saved. It takes into account errors, range, outfield arm and double-play ability.
Last season, the universal DH allowed the Mets to hide Smith’s inadequacies in the outfield by splitting his time with Alonso between DH & First Base. With the universal DH no longer an option, Smith has put in the work to be an everyday outfielder.
Although this is a small sample size, in 319 2/3 in left this season Smith has done a complete 180. He’s produced a 2 DRS, 0.8 RngR while being top 10 in each of the previously mentioned statistical categories.
But what can cause such a drastic shift in a player’s defensive rating?
According to Thomas Hall of metsmerizedonline.com, it’s as simple as adjusting his pre-pitch positioning.
“Well, a major component of his progression has been where the team has positioned him before the start of each play,” Hall writes. “Since the Junipero Serra HS standout has historically struggled with his range in the outfield, the coaching staff has decided to move him closer to the foul line, which has made it much easier for him to track down balls when ranging to his right.”
Smith has also stepped up as a mentor for younger players like MLBbro rookie Khalil Lee.
Last season, the Mets were one of the worst defensive teams in Major League Baseball. But now, as the game evolves and defensive versatility is considered a huge plus, the emergence of Smith as not only a dangerous hitter, but a reliable defender and leader will help the Mets remain in the pennant race.
Mason Williams is making the move back to the big leagues.
Williams was called up to the New York Mets on Sunday, after making a big impression during his time with Triple-A Syracuse.
When he was promoted, the 29-year-old batted .383 with a .474 on-base percentage while slugging .574. He finished his stint with Syracuse with an exclamation point, crushing a grand slam as part of a 3-for-3 night that extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Mets Triple-A prospect Mason Williams continues to impress with a grand slam to right to give Syracuse an 8-1 lead.
The Mets have to be hoping that Williams can do something to help jump-start the team’s anemic offense. He will likely step in for Cameron Maybin. Maybin is 1-for-28 since debuting with New York on May 19.
Williams has spent parts of six seasons in the majors, coming up with the New York Yankees in 2015, where he homered in his first game.
He was a highly-touted prospect in New York’s farm system, but he struggled with his confidence and with injury.
He tore up his shoulder just a week into his rookie campaign while sliding back on a pickoff attempt. Surgery followed and he’s never quite been able to get back to where he was.
Since then he’s played in only 97 games for New York, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Baltimore Orioles.
Williams got his longest look with Cincinnati, appearing in 51 games during the 2018 season. He carried a solid .293 average over 123 at-bats, with eight of his 36 hits going for extra bases.
He homered in his first start for the Reds as well.
In his 235 career at-bats, Williams has shown the ability to make solid contact, though he’s struck out far too often.
His tremendous athleticism and defensive ability have kept him close to the big leagues, and the Mets were happy to take a chance on him.
Luis Rojas on recent minor league signing Mason Williams, who's batting .333/.415/.472 at AAA:
"I asked about him because I've known Mason for a few years now." But Williams isn't on the Mets' 40-man, which is an issue.
Rojas added: "I've always been a big fan of that kid."
Mason Williams will likely be given a real opportunity to earn a regular job in the injury-ravaged and underachieving Mets outfield. There won’t be many opportunities like this one for a player with all of the requisite tools and talent.
Perhaps Williams can become an unlikely hero that keeps the Mets afloat and in first place in the NL East until the team finds some semblance of health.
Let’s be real. The Mets have a World Series title-contending team. They have the pitching and the offense to compete with anyone in the league. Everyone knows Lindor, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Pete Alonso. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker are the two best MLBbro starters in the game.
But a player you should familiarize yourself with is Dominic Smith. For those who don’t know, Smith has been one of the top hitters for the Mets recently.
Take a look at these numbers.
Smith is hitting .364 with eight hits and five RBI in his last seven games entering Friday night’s game against Tampa Bay. He went off on May 12 against the Baltimore Orioles, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a double.
His passionate, teary-eyed 2020 press conference hit an emotional chord throughout MLB and inspired his white teammates and players across the league, to join him in his crusade for social injustice.
When Smith first started his professional career, he got off to a slow start. There was a time early on during his minor league career where he went 0-for-22 to start the month of May. That’s tough right there and just lets you see that it is very easy to fail in this sport.
Despite struggling early in his career, Smith quickly adjusted well to the game and became a prominent hitter in the minors.
He made his MLB debut during the 2017 season and Smith got a taste of what that MLB life and competition was like. After the 2017 season, he started to work on his game more and adjusted well.
During the 2019 season, Smith started to make a name for himself. Our MLB bro finished the season playing in 89 games and finishing with a .282 batting average and 11 home runs.
At that time, the Mets knew that Smith could be an important piece to the team. The 26-year-old started the 2021 season off strong.
He had a four-game hitting streak to start the season and then fell off a little bit at the end of April.
But now he’s coming into his own and is seeing the ball well at the plate. Through 30 games, Smith has a .241 (and rising) batting average with 14 RBI.
The New York Mets have found themselves at the top of the NL East standings. And going into the 2021 season, the team had high expectations to be one of the top teams in the NL.
New York was one of the most talked-about teams during the offseason, and I’m not talking about the Yankees.
When the Mets signed shortstop Francisco Lindor, it added fuel to the fire for the team in the Big Apple. Now, the Mets are one of the top teams not only in the NL, but all of baseball and they are looking to return to the World Series where they lost to the Kansas City Royals in 2015.
Our bro will play a big part for the Mets this season and don’t be surprised if his success at the plate continues.
Usually, a team that loses a pitcher like Jacob DeGrom for any period of time would be scrambling to figure out a way to fill that void.
The New York Mets are being justifiably cautious with their ace, who was placed on the 10-day injured list earlier this week. But the team has continued to roll with DeGrom watching, extending their winning streak to seven games with a two-game series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.
The last two wins came in large part to the efforts of rising New York stars Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker. In sweeping the short series with the O’s, Stroman and Walker combined for back-to-back outstanding outings.
My dawg @tai_walker was filthy again. Even keel and balanced. On to the next with the squad! @Mets
In Tuesday’s 3-2 victory, Stroman gave up one run in 6.1 innings, earning a no-decision. It was his fourth start with at least six innings pitched while allowing one run or less.
Wednesday night, Walker earned his third win of the season after holding Baltimore to one run by scattering four hits over seven innings. For the third time in seven starts, he allowed one run or less.
On the strength of those showings, the Mets are the only team in the National League with three starters in the top 10 in earned run average.
The #Mets currently have three starting pitchers with ERAs under 3.00 in Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman & Taijuan Walker.
The last time the club had a trio of starters with ERAs under 3.00 (min. 40 IP) by the end of May was in 2016:
Tai Weezy has followed Stroman’s lead, needing just one more win to tie last season’s total. Opposing hitters are batting .170 against Walker and his 2.20 earned run average is a career-best. At 6’4”, and 235 pounds, Walker is more of a flame thrower than his teammate, striking out 39 in 41 innings.