While Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith has just 54 big league games under his belt, it’s easy for that thought to escape some. Truly, Smith displayed the poise of a veteran during his first campaign in the big leagues in 2019.
Furthermore, he displayed the ability to drive the baseball off the sport’s best pitching. Honestly, how easy is it to forget that Smith hit 15 home runs upon his call-up in that small sample of games? For one, I did.
A position that will change dramatically in the next few years: Ranking the top 10 catchers. https://t.co/IJL9C1iMU2
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 4, 2020
Now, Buster Olney of ESPN has compiled a list of his top-10 catchers in baseball. Indeed, Smith cracks the list at number ten. Remember, for a guy with that small amount of experience to make the list; it’s incredibly special.
Here’s what Olney says of Smith.
10. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
That the Dodgers turned over a championship-caliber pitching staff to a rookie said everything you need to know about Smith, who reminds evaluators a lot of Posey in his skill set and demeanor. In his first 170 plate appearances, Smith had an adjusted OPS+ of 134 — a sign of what’s to come.
By comparison, J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, and Roberto Perez topped the list. Therefore, Smith isn’t that far from moving up a few slots with another solid sophomore year under his belt.
Finally, the premise of Olney’s article is that with the possibility of an automated strike zone; more of a premium will be put on catchers that can simply hit. Catchers will still be expected to be good ‘receivers of the baseball’ Olney states, but teams are going to want someone at the position who can rake.
Moving forward, Smith will be entering his age-25 season in 2020. Of course, this could mean many years of mashing with the side benefit of being a solid little defender and handling the pitching staff.