Mailbag: More on Dominic Smith’s power

This is a follow-up to Friday’s post about Dominic Smith’s power production in Savannah this year.

The quick summary: above-average first basemen hit generally hit for more power in their age 19 seasons than Smith has shown this year with Savannah. Some of Smith’s output has to do with Grayson Stadium, but even his road performance is pretty far below the average of the group in terms of key offensive indicators.

So, onto the mailbag:

The short answer is that including only the performance of above average MLB first basemen in 2014, who were playing in a full-season league at age 19 does not change the conclusions much at all.

Here’s the key chart comparing Smith to the above average first basemen in MLB and their performance in their age 19 professional seasons.

AVG OBP SLG BB% K% HR% XBH% ISO 1B% BABIP
AVG .293 .370 .454 9.5 16.5 2.2 7.9 .161 15.9 .342
AVG
(Full Season Only)
.291 .363 .442 8.5 16.3 2.0 7.3 .152 15.7 .342
SMITH .275 .347 .340 9.6 15.5 0.2 5.4 .066 19.0 .328

Limiting the study to full-season performance only eliminates the 52 games Edwin Encarnacion played in the Pioneer League, 32 games from Carlos Santana¬†in the Gulf Coast League, 65 games from Brandon Moss in the NYP, ¬†58 games from Justin Morneau split between the GCL and the Appy League and Joey Votto’s 70 games in the Pioneer League. With those partial seasons removed from the sample, the remaining six partial seasons, some of which were very good, carry more weight: Miguel Cabrera’s 110 games in the Mid-West League, Anthony Rizzo’s brief 21 games in the South Atlantic League, Encarnacion’s 45 games with Savannah, Mike Napoli’s 50 games in the MWL and California League, Adrian Gonzalez’s 127 games in the MWL and Votto’s 60 games in the MWL.

Note that some of Smith’s “missing” extra-base hits are showing up as singles. He’s making hard contact but not driving the ball.

The optimistic take is that he’s not going to fight Grayson Stadium’s enormous right-centerfield gap and instead is working on spraying the ball up the middle. The pessimistic take is that he’s doing so because he lacks a skill other successful first basemen had already started to put into game action at this age. The optimistic take is that Brandon Nimmo went from two homeruns in 110 games with the Gnats in 2013 to 10 homeruns in 113 games split between advanced-A and double-A. The pessimistic report is that Nimmo is three inches taller, and generates better leverage in his swing.

Smith can hit, but the question about his ability to hit for power in the big leagues is real and it certainly will not be settled in 2014 when he’s in a-ball, years from the big leagues and still learning how to hit.