Dodgers: 5 Questions the Team Must Answer When Play Resumes
Is Will Smith ready to be the full-time catcher for the Dodgers in 2020?
There were few rookie call-ups that made as immediate an impact on their teams as did Will Smith for the Dodgers last season.
Called up on May 28th, Smith made his MLB debut memorable by going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Four days later, he hit a walk-off home run against the Philadelphia Phillies.
All told, Smith would appear in 54 games and account for an fWAR of 1.7, hitting .253/.337/.571 with 15 home runs and 42 RBI. By comparison, Austin Barnes made 75 appearances with a 0.7 fWAR and a slash line of .203/.293/.340, five home runs, and 25 RBI.
The writing on the wall points to Smith being the primary backstop for the Dodgers in 2020, as he is inevitably the future of the team behind the plate. His stick is obviously ready for the big leagues and will provide a major upgrade over the anemic Barnes (132 wRC+ compared to 68). Smith will need to get his strikeouts (26.5%) in line a bit more, but he’s shown to make significant improvements in that department after repeating a level throughout his minor league career as well.
The question comes is whether or not the Dodgers will trust him out there four out of every five days and how that will affect his performance at the plate and behind it. A shortened season may be the best potential case for Smith’s development, allowing the team to carry another catcher and potentially rest their star prospect a bit more often. And with the rumors of a potential DH used in 2020, Smith’s bat could be slotted into the line-up even during off days.