Q. Is 33 old for a Seth Smith-type ballplayer?
A. There's this vivid memory that Dr. D has from back in the 1980s. There was a good corner outfielder playing for the Mets, Kevin McReynolds. AARP members will remember him as an archetype of the "fairly good" player that New York fans had literally in the Hall of Fame by age 29. James wound up an argument sourly, going "if he's still PLAYING at age 33, he'll be horsefeathers."
This was back before anybody else fully bought into James' age-arc sermons. I remember going, "Yowch! He KNOWS that? He's not PREDICTING it?" But of course McReynolds turned into horsefeathers at age 33. So you can sympathize with this being a penguin-type mommy imprint on Dr. D's addled mind.
McReynolds was a decent glove man in RF or LF. He batted 115-125. He had a good EYE, up to 1.0. He was pretty slow. He had old players' skills early on, had more brain than physical gifts. Is that reminding you of anybody?
The point isn't that Seth Smith is overpriced at $7M. The point is just that, his age can't be minimized.
And! You've got Aoki starting in the other corner, age 34. And you've got Franklin Gutierrez backing them both up. We won't even talk about CF, but ... the next backup for any of them is who, Boog Powell?
The Mariners' outfield is old and shaky.
OK. That said, what are Smith's chances to produce for one more year?
Q. What does HQ say? You've got me hoping against hope that it's some small comfort at least.
- Used to be, 10 HRs from an outfielder was worthless. These days Smith's power is pretty decent
- Thump *versus righties* will KEEP giving him value (... huh)
- Surging XctX and flyball rate (... XctX is hard hits x contact rate)
- An investment below $10 could bring nice profit
- Slash line: .260/.350/.450
Q. Does the eye /cosign this?
A. Smith did indeed square the ball up, with authority, last year. And last year late. Part of this is the classic LHB vs RHP matchup which gives Smith a bit more time. All things considered, it's fair to right-shift Smith's age arc by a year or two.
He's been producing 5.0 runs per game, barely. Let's not sell him as some kind of Adam Lind or something, but if your alternatives are Carlos Peguero and Abraham Almonte, sure.
Q. Best thing about him?
A. Good fit for the park. He used to be okay, but the slash line of .260 with good walks and doubles goes from "a'ight" in the National League to "sol-EED" in Safeco. His OPS+ has gone from 113 to 133 here. Howcome? He's got a whiff of that Raul Ibanez topspin, with a plus grounder rate but significant HR's and doubles. When he pulls a liner to RF it whiiirrrrrs down before the outfielder can get it.
He can take the ball the other way a bit, precisely because he hits the top half of the ball (which becomes a "cover" when he's late). Now if he can just chat with Leonydas about turning the top hand over.... nah, Smith has been a good soldier for two years. Another year would be kewl.
I really enjoy watching Smith play baseball, by the way. He looks like the guy next door but his AB's cut diamond-hard melodies onto the brains of some pretty blinkin' tough pitchers.