It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for Dodgers’ catcher Will Smith. After bursting onto the scene last season and announcing himself as the catcher of the future, the start of 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned.
Through the month of July, Smith hit a mere .077 with only one extra-base hit. August wasn’t kind to him either, but he was able to raise his batting average past the Mendoza line to .208 by the end of the month. While these numbers look pretty bad on paper, the truth was that Smith was a victim of terrible luck for the first month and change of the season. Batted balls that were smoked ran right into gloves and balls that would normally find the gaps just weren’t falling.
It was so bad that fans were calling for the team to send him back to the alternate camp and bring up Keibert Ruiz, who is a top catching prospect himself.
While his batting average took a serious hit because of these bad breaks, it seems as if the baseball Gods have finally decided to reverse his fortunes in the month of September. Since the end of August, Will Smith is hitting .464 with 4 RBI and 5 extra-base hits. To top it all off, most of his production has come in crunch time where it matters most. From the 7th inning on, Smith boasts a .400 average and has driven in critical runs, including this go-ahead 2-run homer earlier this month against Colorado.
Will Smith – Los Angeles Dodgers (5) 2-run. pic.twitter.com/D3frly93qK
— MLB HR Tracker (@hr_mlb) September 5, 2020
While the numbers suggest that Will Smith found a formula for success that led to such a boost in production, the reality is that he is the same hitter he has always been. His patience at the plate, impeccable vision, and smooth swing have all been there since the start of the season, it just took a bit longer than expected for the odds to even out in his favor.
Moreover, combined with an at times resurgent Austin Barnes, Los Angeles features some of the league’s best production out of the catcher’s spot. The Dodger tandem is third in the National League with a .851 OPS and second in all of baseball at getting on base with a .377 OBP.
With multiple Dodgers still struggling to find success at the plate and Justin Turner barely returning to action, Will Smith is exactly what the doctor ordered as the Dodgers try and hold off the Padres to win their eighth straight Division title.