Dominic Smith

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Dominic David Rene Smith
(Dom)

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Biographical Information[edit]

First baseman Dominic Smith was selected by the New York Mets and scout Drew Toussaint in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft, with the 11th overall pick. He soon signed for a $2.6 million bonus and made his pro debut with the GCL Mets on June 22nd, going 2-for-4 against the GCL Nationals. He hit .287 in 48 games in the Gulf Coast League that first year, and also played three games for the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League, where he went 4-for-6 with 4 doubles to give his final number a boost. In 2014, he played 126 games for the Savannah Sand Gnats in the South Atlantic League, where he hit .271/.344/.338. He did not develop his power immediately, as he hit only one homer that year.

In 2015, Dominic was in the Florida State League with the St. Lucie Mets where he played 118 games. He had a very good year, hitting .305/.354/.417 with 6 homers and 79 RBIs. He played in the Arizona Fall League after the season, then in 2016 was in AA with the Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League. That year, he played 130 games and once again topped the .300 mark, with a slash line of .302/.367/.457 with 29 doubles and 14 homers, the early concerns about his lack of power having been completely erased by that point. He continued his steady progression in 2017, moving to AAA with the Las Vegas 51s where he played 114 games hitting .330 with 34 doubles and 16 homers, also driving in 76 runs. It was clear he was ready for the major leagues - all he needed was a spot in the Mets' line-up, something when happened shortly after they traded starting 1B Lucas Duda at the trading deadline.

He was called up to New York to make his debut on August 11, 2017. He started at first base against the Philadelphia Phillies and went 1 for 3 while batting 6th before being replaced in a double switch in the 6th inning. His first career hit was a single off Nick Pivetta in the 4th. In 49 games, he hit .198 with 9 homers and 26 RBIs. As a result of his underwhelming production, the Mets decided to get some insurance in 2018 by signing veteran 1B Adrian Gonzalez, and he started at the position in the early part of the season. Gonzalez was clearly on his last legs, though, as he hit just .237 in 54 games and was released on June 11th. The Mets then called up Smith, who had started the year in the minors, to take over at first base, but he hit just .227 with 1 homer and a single RBI the rest of the month, and then hit just .115 with no long balls through July 15th, earning a ticket back to the minors. He was back starting in September and hit .258 with 3 homers and 8 RBIs in 25 games that month, but it was a very disappointing year overall, with a .224 average, 5 homers and just 11 RBI in 56 games. In the minors, he did not do much better, batting .258 with 6 homers and 41 RBIs in 85 games for Las Vegas. By August, Mets fans were clamoring for the team to call up top prospect Pete Alonso, who was tearing up the minor leagues, but concerned over service time issues, the front office did not budge. Wilmer Flores ended up playing the most innings at first base for the Mets that year.

Smith faced a fight for his career in spring training in 2019, but responded with a strong performance, giving the top brass the excuse they needed to delay Alonso's arrival by a few weeks or longer, giving them another year before he would become eligible for salary arbitration. In the end though, Alonso was so clearly ready that the Mets decided to have him start with the team on Opening Day. As a result, without a starting job, Dominic clearly needed to perform in order not to become an afterthought. Perform he did, although forced to scrounge for playing time in left field by the emergence of Alonso who quickly locked down the first base job on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year Award. Through the end of July, he was hitting .278 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 88 games. However, he suffered a stress fracture in his foot on July 26th and did not play again until the final game of the season on September 29th. He then put a fitting coda to his season, when he hit a walk-off three-run homer off Grant Dayton of the Atlanta Braves in the 11th inning to give the Mets a 7-6 win.

During the 2020 season, he was one of the more prominent African-American players in Major League Baseball taking a stand against racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in May, and the shooting of Jacob Blake in August. He was quoted extensively as a spokesman for African-American athletes affected by the situation: "I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care. For this to just continuously happen, it just shows just the hate in people's hearts. That just sucks, you know? Being a Black man in America, it's not easy." He was the first member of the Mets to kneel during the National Anthem in solidarity with victims of brutality. Having grown up in poverty in South Central Los Angeles, he knew exactly where the sentiment was coming from, and he also devoted time to help change things, with his foundation "Baseball Generations" working with inner-city kids. He had a break-out season that year, playing 50 of the 60 games during the shortened season, and putting up an OPS+ of 167, the highest on the team. He split his time between first base and left field, batting .316 with 21 doubles, 10 homers and 42 RBIs. He finished 13th in the voting for the MVP Award. One would have thought the Mets would have seen the light and made him one of the building blocks of the team for the upcoming season, but when Opening Day rolled around on April 5, 2021, he found himself sitting on the bench and looking on helplessly as the team blew an early lead against the Philadelphia Phillies and lost the game, 5-3.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "Mets’ Dom Smith: Racism ‘happens every day’", mlb.com, June 14, 2020. [1]
  • Justin Toscano: "'People still don't care': An emotional Dominic Smith discusses fight against racism", USA Today, August 27, 2020. [2]

Related Sites[edit]