AdministratorJanuary 5, 2021 at 4:40 pm
After a strong rookie campaign in 2019, Will Smith was a lock for the starting catcher job before the season even began. He would go onto have another excellent season in 2020 while slashing .289/.401/.579 with an OPS of .980.
If you only paid attention to batting average until mid-September, you would have thought Smith was having a rough year. But when you looked closer at the numbers, you would see Smith was crushing the ball this season even when he was hitting into outs. His exit velocity this season was in the 80th percentile, and his hard-hit percentile was in the 88th percentile. Over 18 games in September, Smith was batting .348 (23-for-66), which helped raised his batting average to .289 to finish off the season.
When it comes to Smith’s defense, it could be better. Depending on how much you believe in this stat, you can look at catcher ERA. Catcher ERA can help show you which catchers are helping their pitchers give up less earned runs. For example, in 2020, Barnes had an ERA of 2.61, whereas Smith had an ERA of 3.29. Which isn’t bad by any means, but Barnes is clearly better in that regard. Smith also only threw out 23% of runners who tried to steal against him. Statcast had his framing ranked in the 6th percentile in all of baseball. Defensively, Smith isn’t awful, but there’s definitely some work that could be done to make him a stronger catcher.
Smith found himself struggling quite a bit in the playoffs. He did have a monstrous game in the NLDS against the Padres when he went 5-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI, but outside of that, he didn’t have any other multi-hit games. There is one moment that can’t be overlooked, as it may have saved the Dodgers season. In Game 5 of the NLCS he hit the go-ahead home run against the Braves Will Smith to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead in the 6th. Through 18 games in October, Smith slashed .203/.267/.348 with an OPS of .614. The strikeouts seemed to kill him in October when he racked up 24 in 69 at-bats.
Will Smith is under team control for two more seasons before he hits arbitration, and he has two options left. He will be 26 next season and will be a free agent after the 2025 season.
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