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Dodgers: Will Smith’s Improved Play Keeping LA Alive in NL West Race

The Fresh Prince has been huge for the Dodgers’ playoff hopes this season.



There is a reason that the Dodgers felt comfortable finally dealing away their top catching prospect in Kiebert Ruiz, and his name is William Dills Smith.

After years of speculation as to which of these two young catchers would claim the backstop as their own, the Dodgers gave us all the answer by sending Ruiz to the Nationals in a deal for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.

Smith has been solid during his big league tenure, but he has taken things to another level since the trade deadline officially made him the catcher of both present and future. Since July 31st, Will Smith is hitting .312 with 8 RBI and 3 home runs, including two clutch shots in the last two games.

The first of these home runs came in extra innings on Friday night, the hit that proved to be the game-winner in what ended as a 6-5 Dodgers victory over the Mets.

The most recent homer came in a similarly critical situation, a solo shot that not only tied the game in the 7th inning but also broke up a no-hitter in a game where the LA offense was struggling to get it going at the plate.

With Will, it isn’t about the total amount of productions as much as it is the timeliness of his production. The kid can come through when it matters most. And with the team still struggling to return to full health, Smith has been key to keeping this team in the hunt for another division title.

Related: Dave Roberts talks growth of Walker Buehler, the Cy-Young frontrunner

His improvement hasn’t just come on offense, however. One of the biggest knocks on Smith had always been that his defense and game-calling were not as developed as his bat. This season has gone a long way in changing that narrative, as Smith has bought into his role as a game-caller.

After Saturday night’s victory in New York, Walker Buehler gave Smith a lot of credit for his incredible outing.

Big tip of the hat to Will Smith and the fingers he’s putting down and keeping me in the zone. I was a little sporadic at times, so him kind of calming me down and getting me back in [the zone] was huge.

The Dodgers have always known that Will Smith could hit at the major league level, but having him grow as a defensive catcher is huge. If he can continue his current trajectory, it won’t be long before he enters the conversation for being the best catcher in baseball.

Written by Daniel Palma

Daniel is an avid sports fan who loves his hometown teams. If he's not watching baseball, you can find him playing or coaching. No matter what, he'll always root for the Boys in Blue!

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  1. Smith will probably never gain favor with the “pitch framer” obsessives, the same guys who raved about Grandal all those years and ignored the fact that during big games he actually had trouble catching the ball. The only good thing about a computer calling balls and strikes is that it would finally shut those idiots up. Smith has proven he is a good major league catcher while Ruiz remains a prospect and – if for some reason Smith doesn’t make it going forward – the Dodgers still have a guy named Cartaya waiting in the wings. In the meantime, we have Scherzer and TTurn going forward. It’s all good.

    • Rainbirdmuse, all very true here. Only thing is I hope there’s a DH next year so Dodgers can keep his bat in the lineup whenever Barnes catches. Might not be a bad idea with Smith if he on occasion could play 3rd, as he’s done before or even 1st to save his legs. And he doesn’t have to be a gold glove out there either. Just ways to keep him in lineup with him getting a break from behind the plate.

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