Dodgers: Will Smith leads top rookies in at bats per home run
Will Smith has become one of the Dodgers’ best power hitters since grabbing hold of the starting catcher role. How does he compare to other power-hitting rookies?
When Will Smith first came up for the Dodgers, most of the questions surrounding his game were if he was ready defensively. What was known is that Smith was a power-hitting catcher with the potential to hit 20 home runs with ease. Still, Will has been very impressive in his rookie campaign and outslugged nearly all of the impressive rookies in MLB this season.
Following play on Thursday night, Will Smith has a home run rate of 9.1 at-bats per home run. The other two rookie sluggers in the game garnering national attention are Yordan Alvarez and Pete Alonso. Well, Alvarez has a home run rate of 10.7 at-bats per home run. What about Alonso who has mashed 40 home runs? Will Smith bests Pete Alonso as well who has 11.5 AB/HR.
There is another impressive rookie in the NL West and that is Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres. Power-wise, he has a home run rate of over fifteen at-bats per home run. The one rookie who has bested Smith is Aristides Aquino who has fourteen home runs in August and a home run rate of 6.9 AB/HR. Outside of Aquino, Smith bests the most notable rookies in the league.
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How does that compare to the sluggers on a Dodger team that could have as many as four 30 home run hitters this season? National League MVP candidate Cody Bellinger has a home run rate of 11.2 AB/HR this season and Max Muncy follows Bellinger with a rate of 13.4 AB/HR. That really puts in perspective how powerful of a start Will Smith is off to.
Smith now has a stranglehold on the Dodgers’ starting catcher job and his next step will be putting his home run show on display in the postseason. Cody Bellinger hit a rookie wall in his first postseason, especially in the World Series where he hit just .143. Will Smith will look to avoid a similar struggle and help push the Dodgers over their World Series hurdle.
Will has been in a mini-slump lately although the same could be said for the majority of the Dodgers’ lineup. Once Smith gets going again he will likely improve his AB/HR rate.
Whatever production Will provides in October, it won’t be hard to top what the Dodgers have received from their catchers over the last few postseasons. In 2018, Grandal hit just .138 in the playoffs and Barnes was even worse with a .069 batting average. Both catchers combined to deliver just one home run last postseason. In other words, Smith doesn’t have to do much to raise the bar.
Will Smith has been one of the many surprise contributors for the Dodgers this season. While Andrew Friedman said Smith could help this season, there is no way he expected this type of power impact so soon.