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Dodgers Will Smith: What to Expect from LA’s New Starting Catcher

The Dodgers have made their move and expectations should be tempered somewhat.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 23: Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a walk-off two run homerun, for a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers have finally given way to the Fresh Prince and his name is Will Smith. The Dodgers sent down Austin Barnes on Thursday and are expected to promote Smith on July 26 to act as the club’s starting catcher.

While fans have been clamoring for this move to be made for quite some time, it is important to temper expectations. Will he better than Austin Barnes? Most likely. Still, it is important to realize that Smith is just a rookie who only has just 29 plate appearances under his belt at the major league level.

Smith has been crushing it in Triple-A, as has been well-documented for the last few weeks. Austin Barnes’ batting average had sunk below the Mendoza line and it was obvious that a change was not only necessary, but on the horizon. Smith was holding a 130 wRC+ at Triple-A Oklahoma City and had hit 20 home runs across 61 games there.

Austin Barnes held a 64 wRC+ mark, 36 percent below league average. Will Smith held a 130 wRC+ in AAA and a 149 wRC+ in a small MLB sample size, 30 percent and 49 percentage above league average respectively.

He could very well be better defensively, too. He just needs to get to a point where he is trusted by the pitching staff, but two months prior to the postseason should be more than enough time to acclimate to his new environment and role as the starting catcher in the major leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Managing Expectations

Although Smith is what everyone has been waiting for, temper expectations. Anything is better than Austin Barnes, but allow Smith the necessary room for growth and allow him to make rookie mistakes. He will not be perfect and he most likely will not be a superstar catcher upon his third arrival to the big league club.

Regardless, Smith is the future and the future is now. It is time to welcome this change with open arms and celebrate yet another graduation of a top prospect to a starting role.

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 19 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

20 Comments

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  1. Exactly give the rookie time to adjust. Friedman last winter stated Smith had the potential to be a Gold Glover. His brief stint up showed a solid presence behind the plate. Martin will be a great mentor for him going forward. All we ask is a good solid catcher that can call a good game, make contact and move the man over and get on base occasionally to clear the pitcher slot.
    If this young man can hit reasonably well he will help the Dodgers in the playoffs immeasurably as it will give the lineup more length. He and Ruiz are the reason the Dodgers did not go after Realmuto and I think it was a good thing to rely on the future.

  2. Finally they are doing something to upgrade the offense at that position. Hopefully, Barnes will find something in AAA and be called back up in Sept. or even sooner. Will become Will the Thrill !

  3. Another degrading article Daniel. I am sorry I did not look at the author before I read the article. I will be more careful in the future.

  4. This move had to be made. Barnes was “Lost in Space” so Smith should help lengthen the lineup with Martin a good backup option and mentor.

    • LOL but good one Greg. “Lost in Space”, yeah I have that entire series on DVD. But i would guess Will Smith is a lot more on the brave side than the Zachary Smith on that show,

  5. I give the Dodgers credit for going with Barnes as long as they did, but now its time for a change, and in the process, a lengthening of our lineup. Now, if we can secure the services of a BP pitcher, out ship will steady itself. Welcome back, Will!!! And, good luck!!! Go Blue!!!

    • BLUE LOU! If I were a betting person , I would bet that you know that both myself and PD Jr. concur with you and this move. Barnes has to know that it was basically his poor offensive showing that prompted this move. Agree that we all should temper the expectations but at least Smith has 2 months to really acclimate himself up here.

      • I agree with you, AZUL. Smith’s promotion back to the big club could not happen at a better time. Now, I will be curious to see what happens with the BP, especially as it pertains to the Pirates and Vasquez. He would be perfect for us, but again, as you, PD Jr, and I have discussed, we cannot give away the store to get him. Go Blue!!!!

  6. Now that we have addressed the catcher situation, let’s bring up Lux to play 2nd base and SS occasionally to spell Seager. Send Keke down. He and Barnes can work on bringing up their averages. I want to see Beaty at 1st more. Unload Joc; then we’ll only have one position player hitting under .240 (Martin), which is what a World Series lineup should look like. After all, we have Garlick and Reks waiting in the wings. It sure would be nice if we had a speedster major league ready that can steal an occasional base and be able to sacrifice bunt. I miss our running game of the past with Gordon. We would have won that Angel game if DR had a more aggressive stealing game or hit and run game with Bellinger on base.

    • Paul H., Joc, who is hitting 20+ dingers, is going no where. Lux will be up in September. This is no time to tamper with the basic core of the team. We need to get the BP issue straightened out one way or the other. Go Blue!!!!

  7. If Will Smith can continue to show he can hit up here I certainly would move him up in the batting order because if he is hitting 8th, he won’t get too many hit table pitches hitting in front of the pitcher.

  8. Fine piece but tempering expectations in LA? Kidding, right?

    Dodgers have habit of slow-playing their young talent. IMO, to the point of silly sometimes, this one in particular. This kid should have been up months ago and if we were in a tighter race, this agonizing deliberation would have cost dearly.

  9. It’s been time for a change since Blue failed to bring back Grandal. They move slowly – just look how long they stuck with AJ Ellis.

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