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.
Following Austin Barnes, will Will Smith be THE answer, or just an answer for now?
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) July 26, 2019
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.
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.