While the Mets are off the ground and running, one player has yet to hit his stride in their lineup. A look at the numbers gives us a clue.
Like all teams, The Mets devote a healthy portion of their paid staff to provide data to managers and coaches about their players. The buzzword is, of course, analytics, and the idea is to use the “numbers” as information to help make the team and its players better.
Teams, coaches, and players differ as to the extent they use those numbers during a game. Some rebel at the whole idea – like Hall Of Famer John Schmolz, who says, “Throw away the numbers and let your eyes tell you everything you need to know.”
In this piece, ours is not to argue the matter either way. Instead, I want to do a double-check on the Mets analyzers to see if they have missed anything that might uncover some clues about what ails Dominic Smith.
Once thought to be an afterthought in Met’s plans, Smith is not having a particularly bad year, though it’s apparent that he is struggling and not carrying his full load in the Mets lineup.
Mets: Drilling Down On Dominic Smith
First, the raw numbers (as the play begins Saturday), and as they might look on our screen during a game:
On the surface, nothing appears to be that off this year compared to his career numbers with the possible lapse in the power department and only two home runs to show for 2021.
But a closer look at Smith’s splits reveals a striking inability to hit successfully with two strikes this year.
Now, don’t forget this just a fan looking in from outside the fishbowl, and it’s for the coaches and Smith himself to figure out this anomaly, but it’s safe to say he is either not aggressive enough with two strikes, or maybe he’s too aggressive swinging at pitches he shouldn’t be shooting at.
47 of Smith’s 108 at-bats have ended with two strikes on him. This might indicate he is taking too many pitches, getting himself in a hole, and allowing the pitchers to throw their best pitch to retire him.
Similarly, Dominic Smith is not performing in the “Clutch Stats” category.
Again, this is an anomaly as Mets fans can recall the final game of the 2019 season when Smith hit a clutch walk-off home run against the Atlanta Braves, his first at-bat in months, to send the Mets home for the season on a high note. (Video Here)
Is he pressing too much, and if he is, how do the Mets get Smith to relax and to be the player many predicted to be in the running for the 2021 vote for the Most Valuable Player in the National League?
One more – fully half of Smith’s strikeouts (13-27) come with a runner in scoring position. While this has been a bane striking the Mets team as a whole all year, it’s Smith, whose fifth place in the lineup demands more.
We know little, if anything, about Smith’s relationship with now-departed Mets hitting coach Chili Davis, and perhaps the new team led by Hugh Qauttlebaum can provide new insight based on these numbers that can trigger the re-emergence of (probably) the Mets best pure hitter.
As we know, the first step in solving any problem is first to identify what the source of the problem is or might be. From there, solutions can surface – if they are entertained, in this case by Dominic Smith.
At this point in the season, virtually no one is willing to wager Smith will hit twelve home runs this year (the pace he is on). But would you be winning to bet he’ll hit 25-30 HR, if this keeps going and where the Mets need him to be, either?
The pressure, though, is not all on Smith to drive the Mets offense, and lord knows Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, James McCann, and the whole lot of them need to step up the pace as well, while their pitching continues to carry the Mets through…
But Dominic Smith is a key, and for now, we’ll just say…he’s all yours Mr. Quattlebaum.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Stephen Steele Is the lineup really “off and running”? It says in the story – not that it needed to – that Conforto, Alonso, Lindor, and McCann are all hitting well below expectations. McNeil also has underwhelmed. Smith just had a three-hit game. Hopefully, there is more to come. But yes, he does not look like the same confident hitter as last year.
Ed McQuat Conforto’s numbers almost identical as well