Will Smith appears to have hit the rookie wall during September. Still, the Dodgers’ rookie catcher remains clutch with RISP.
When the Dodgers first called Will Smith up they were hoping he could provide a spark with Austin Barnes reeling. Not only did Will make a case to become the Dodgers’ everyday starting catcher, he knocked the door down. It took until August for Smith to receive the lions’ share of starts behind the plate and he got off to a strong start mashing eight home runs and posted an OPS of 1.002.
After his scorching August, Smith appears to have hit the rookie wall in the final month of the regular season. In September, Will has posted a triple slash line of .148/.242/.222. Despite that rough September slash line, Will Smith has still delivered with runners in scoring position going 3-12 during September, his worst month so far.
While all three hits are singles, Will has made solid contact delivering those base hits. None of the three hits registered as soft contact meaning they were not lucky base hits. Smith delivered again on Friday night to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2. Although he once hit as high as third in the batting order, Dave Roberts has eased the expectations for Will Smith by placing him at the bottom of the lineup.
This season, Will Smith’s clutch statistics have survived his September struggles. He has hit .381 with three home runs and 14 RBI’s with runners in scoring position and two outs. He has been one of the better hitters on the team in that situation. Among Dodgers with at least 20 at-bats with RISP and two outs, he has the highest average on the team.
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Overall with runners in scoring position, Will Smith has been one of the top hitters on the team. He has hit six home runs and posted a slugging percentage of .814 while hitting .326. The only regulars hitting better with RISP are A.J. Pollock (.356) and Chris Taylor (.341). Even if Will does not record many hits during the postseason, if he can get them in with RISP it will provide a big boost to the Dodgers.
Over the last two World Series runs, the Dodgers have gotten little production from their catchers. Austin Barnes had his moments during the 2017 run, but he hit just .174 in the World Series. Overall his career slash line in the postseason is .158/.235/.224. That is nearly identical to Will Smith’s September slash line which is unlikely to repeat in the postseason.
Yasmani Grandal was also a non-factor in the postseason outside of a couple home runs. Grandal hit .107/.264/.200 in parts of four postseason runs in Los Angeles and he lost the starting catcher job in each of the last two World Series runs. It will not take much for Will Smith to give the Dodgers better production at catcher in the postseason.