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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Praises Will Smith as one of the Top Catchers in All of Baseball



Don’t look now but Dodgers’ starting catcher Will Smith has catapulted himself into the discussion for one of baseball’s best both behind the dish and in the batter’s box. 

At least manager Dave Roberts believes so.

After Saturday night’s win, the LA manager was beaming over his slugger.

“I’ve said it over and over,” Roberts said. “He’s one of the top few catchers in baseball. The whole package.” 

Smith is backing up the lofty praise of his skipper with clutch hitting, improved plate discipline and poise when it matters most. 

In game one of this series against the New York Mets on Friday, the Blue Crew entered the matchup having, historically speaking, one of the worst records in all of baseball when it came to games that went into extra innings. 

Currently sitting at 1-12, with 1-13 on the precipice, the 26-year-old catcher stepped into the batter’s box in the 10th inning with the score tied at four. Smith obliterated a 3-2 sinker into the left field seats giving the Dodgers the lead. 

His two run shot was the determining factor of the game as the Dodgers won 6-5 in extras to improve upon an abysmal record in extra inning games. 

On Saturday, Smith delivered in the clutch again with another shot into the stands off of Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, who had a no hitter through six up until that point. That solo dinger tied the game up at one in the top of the seventh inning in New York. 

But it isn’t just the offensive fireworks that have left the Dodgers skipper enamored thus far. It’s the command and development of his young catcher behind the plate as well. 

“The more you play and you’re behind there and you’re seeing the hitters and how they react to pitches and what their count tendencies are, that’s information,” Roberts said. “He’s just retaining it so well. And there’s also a trust with all the pitchers that’s really starting to forge which is great.” 

Smith currently ranks within the top ten among qualified catchers in fielding percentage (0.994), putouts (781), caught stealing percentage (27%) and range factor (10.50) in 2021.  

The emergence of the former Louisville Cardinal comes as great news to not only fans but the Dodgers clubhouse as their quiet star may be just what the doctor ordered in pursuit of a division title in 2021.

NEXT: Roberts Talks Growth of Walker Buehler, LA’s Cy Young Award Frontrunner

Written by Tairiq Marshall

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    • The Dodgers have used more than 30 different pitchers this year, the vast majority of which are throwing 90+ MPH pitches with hasty breaking stuff. When you’re catching the same pitchers over and over again, you get to know where the ball is going and you look a lot better receiving. When you’re trying to catch the flavor of the month, it gets very challenging. Give him a break. I suspect that even Johnny Bench would have difficulty with this type of turnover.

      • Oh please. Let Smith win 10 Gold Gloves and 2 MVO awards before you start comparing him to Johnny Bench

        • Another thing to remember is that the 90+ mph fastballs are a bit misleading. First to the detriment of the game the analytics group plAce more focus on velocity than pitching. I think there is a direct correlation to that fact and the injuries that have increased dramatically. Secondly MLB (because of technology improvements) has changed the way speed is measured. In the past speed was measured as the ball crossed the plate. Now they measure it as it’s released from pitcher’s hand.
          I don’t accept the argument that it’s harder to play catcher today.

      • “30 different pitchers this year”

        Wow. That’s a fair point. The 68 Reds only 17 pitchers on their ROSTER.

        (Not to trigger TIm), but I was curious how unusually high 30 was.

  1. Will Smith deserves praise, plain and simple. Most Dodgers’ fans will acknowledge this and appreciate him, especially for his (game changing) offense and the challenges he faces defensively. Go Dodgers!!!

  2. Will Smith has become a favorite target of many Dodgers fans. They only remember and they only point out his mistakes.
    No doubt, Smith has had some issues defensively this season and some fans dwell on his phantom sweep tag that allowed Arozarena to score in game 4 of the WS last year.
    But when you assess his full body of work, now that he’s played in just over a full seasons’ worth of games in his career, you see the outstanding offensive numbers-which includes a ton of clutch hits.
    Overall, Smith handles the pitching staff very well and he will only get better as he gains more experience. Baseball people rate him as one of the best Catchers in the game–that’s good enough for me.
    Again, Smith has only played in 187 games total. His career WAR is 5.6.

  3. When numerous executives around the league compare him to Buster Posey, during his rookie year, no less, then you know he’s that good. He’s still young and he’s still improving. But, he is one of the top-5 in MLB right now…

    • Next year hopefully there’s a DH where when Barnes catches he can remain in the lineup. But now he sits when Barnes catches and we get to see a pitcher bat, such as Urias and he gets hit in the calf that puts him on IL. I blame that idiot Manfred and the MLBPA that was willing to play without the DH in NL in order to protect these pitchers. Ridiculous!

  4. rotflmao…he is one of the worst catchers in baseball. I give him credit for his hitting prowess, but that is off set by passed balls, his terrible inability to frame pitches, and getting pitchers charged with wild pitches when he should have caught the ball.

  5. Of course Roberts is high on his “bullpen” too. I was a pitcher in High School too. I’m almost 80 and could probably still be as effective as a few of those maggots he trots out there. Next I expect him to pull someone that’s throwing a perfect game. Don Mattingly 2.0

    • Old school rules Brad. We’ve been there and seen it all and yet we’re still amazed daily with this Roberts guy. I sit and have a beer and talk baseball any day of the week with him but….with the pitching changes to meet his whims as if he studied the Bobby Fisher game book, he has failed more than had his successes. He’s here stay unfortunately. Aside from that, Will Smith will be one of the greatest catchers in the game as he is already top level after only 160 games….not even a full complete season. Anybody who puts this kid down hasn’t a clue what they are talking about and very simply could not recognize true talent if they were face to face with it. Here, Roberts does know what he is talking about.

  6. Such a true statement. He’s aclutch hittes who also frames the ball well. He did win Friday’s game , but almost lost that game on a passed ball.

  7. I’ve been critical of Smith’s defense,but if he’s going to continue hitting for average and hitting home runs,waiting for his defense to improve will be worth the wait.

  8. Unless you sat back of the dish got bruised by a ball in the dirt as the swing of a bat at a 102 mile an hour fastball passed your face and still you caught the ball in your glove, you don’t know what it takes to sit in that position. What makes Smith good is that what you may think he is or isn’t, doesn’t bother him.

  9. Smith is among the best catchers in baseball right now offensively. And probably is the best. He has an eye like Max Muncy, and rarely chases balls out of the zone. He makes hard contact on a consistent basis. His defense will improve. And as it does he could be the very best in baseball. We need to stop allowing pitchers to dictate that they want Barnes to catch for them. Especially Kershaw whose previous favorite was AJ Ellis. Another catcher that couldn’t hit. Smith needs to play regularly with days off only for rest to accommodate the beating catchers take. With Rios hurt, and Lux contributing next to nothing, I would consider Smith at third whenever JT is hurt, as one of the alternatives as a form of rest day, but only if he’s been adequately prepared. And only on an intermittent basis.

  10. Buster Posey is a 3 out of 4 days a week guy now but his batting numbers are very similar to his MVP year.

    I think if you asked an independent pitching staff on who they would like to have behind the plate from a leadership, catching ability and experience they would pick Posey.

    No slight to Will Smith… glad that Roberts gives him props time will tell.

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