Smith was a shining star for the Mets in their abbreviated season, slashing .316 in 50 games with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. More impressively, Smith batted .333 with runners in scoring position which put a band-aid on the Mets’ struggles with ducks on the pond. Had there been a 2020 All-Star Game, Smith surely would have received plenty of votes to play at Dodger Stadium in mid-July. The 2013 11th overall pick hit his stride, and a lot of baseballs, in 2020.
Joining Smith and the Mets’ lineup in 2021 will be Lindor, who gives the lineup a whole new look in the middle of the order. With the likes of Lindor, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso around him, Smith has the opportunity to be a part of quite a Mets lineup, possibly the team’s best since the 97-win Mets in 2006. PECOTA projects this season’s Amazins in that same ballpark with 95.5 wins and a first-place finish to boot.
The only thing potentially holding back Smith’s playing time? His defense.
The other positive? Smith has Luis Rojas back as manager which is more important than it may appear. Before being named Mets manager, Rojas managed Smith in multiple minor league affiliates. To help Smith lose weight, Rojas had an intern film Smith walking around the dugout and field. The future Mets star was embarrassed by what was on tape and the rest is history.
Along with Smith, Rojas worked his way up the organization, becoming the team’s quality control coach in 2019. If I recall correctly, that was the same year we saw the emergence of a certain Mets rookie who rightfully commandeered the first base job. Thus, Smith was sent to the outfield under the astute mentorship of Rojas.
Perhaps the biggest key of all for Smith is to keep the ball off the ground. Although he only hit at a .127 clip on ground balls, Smith smashed .743 on line drives and .548 on fly balls last season. As baseball continues to become more and more centered around home run or bust, the 29 other teams would be in a tizzy to have Smith’s bat in their lineup. The Mets, who are only paying Smith $2.55M in 2021, should be licking their chops to get him in the everyday lineup.
Spring Training has begun, and a lot of noise out of Mets camp is about the new ownership and possible extensions for upcoming free agents Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor. Let’s put that aside for a moment and appreciate Dominic Smith. A home-grown talent who has the bat and the heart it takes to win in the big leagues. Fans should be excited to see Dominic Smith in 2021, even if Citi Field is at limited capacity. Because let’s remember, the last time fans were at Citi Field, Dominic Smith delivered a magical moment.
We know in the NBA this is a players league and it is all about the superstars, their legacies, and narratives. Ever since June 19th, 2016, James has been compared to Michael Jordan in terms of the GOAT debate in every way possible. The way he walks, the way he talks, what he does on the court, what he does off the court, pretty much every antic James makes. When we talk about the GOAT debate, the ring argument is the casual fans favorite argument which Jordan has six to James’ four. If Davis is not available during the postseason that pretty much eliminates any aspirations of the Lakers hoisting their 18th banner and James getting his 5th ring. Regardless if Davis is with the Lakers or not in the postseason and the Lakers do not win the championship this will negatively impact LeBron’s legacy because no matter what the circumstances are, LeBron is expected to deliver. But here is the catch, James is currently the favorite to hoist his 5th MVP trophy which would tie Jordan in terms of regular season MVP’s and this is where Davis missing time can help LeBron lock up league MVP.
The Regular Season MVP award is all about narratives, and Davis missing time is just another narrative LeBron has on his side. The Lakers currently sit at the 2 seed of the Western Conference at 22-7 and James is averaging 25.7 PPG, 8.2 RBG, and 7.9 APG on 50.4% from the field and 38% from 3 point range and lets not forget to mention he has played all 29 games this year. James can stuff the stat sheet better than any player this league has ever seen and will always be a top MVP candidate and for the first time in a long time, James has many narratives on his side to help his case to win MVP. James is 36 years old in year 18 coming fresh off a Finals MVP after a 72 day turn around beginning the 2020-2021 season, so for James being this late in his career would be a remarkable achievement defeating father time. With Davis out of the line up for an extended period of time, this an opportunity for James to inflate his numbers even more than they are, increase his minutes and usage and he has to carry an even heavier load than he did with Davis by his side. If the Lakers can remain at the top of the Western Conference with Davis missing time behind James stuffing the stat sheet, that will be the icing on the cake for LeBron James to hoist his 5th MVP, in year 18, at age 36, and tie his idol with 5 MVP trophies.