Will Smith is one of the best catchers in baseball. It’s something that Dodger fans have been claiming since he debuted, but the numbers are finally starting to reflect the same sentiment with Smith leading all catchers in total WAR projections this season.
With 2021 being his first full season in the majors, many wondered if the young catcher would be able to maintain his level of production across a full 162 games. And while he has still split time behind the plate with Austin Barnes, Smith has answered every question along the way.
Smith is hitting .270 with 22 home runs and 65 RBI on the year, a sign that his incredible production prior to this season was not just a result of a small sample size. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Braves, manager Dave Roberts shared what he felt has helped Smith enjoy so much success in his first full year as a pro.
I think a lot of it is his mindset, his work ethic. He does a lot of good work in the weight room with our guys. I think we’ve done a good job of managing him and his workload as far as getting Austin [Barnes] in there.
The point of managing Smith’s workload with Austin Barnes is an interesting one. On one hand, you can argue that a catcher as talented as Will Smith should be in there every game possible to maximize his production. On the other, however, there is the argument that the time off has actually helped Smith be MORE productive.
Being a catcher is one of the toughest positions in any sport due to both the physical and mental endurance needed to be among the best. It is more than feasible that giving their catchers a chance to recollect themselves from time to time is one of the reasons that the Dodgers have enjoyed so much production from behind the plate.
Either way, Dave Roberts has been pleased with how his young catcher has handled his first complete year in the majors.
The fact is that it’s a full season. He hasn’t played a full season and it’s going to be longer, so how you manage it is really important. But he’s got to take ownership of preparing his mind and body, and Will has done that with flying colors.
Will Smith put to rest any questions that people had regarding his ability to take the reigns behind the plate for the foreseeable future. His combination of offensive prowess and ability to manage a pitching staff should have fans excited to watch him for years to come.