There are many reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers currently sport a 17-12 record after racing out to a 13-2 start that had fans planning record-setting parades and haters fearing the formation of an unstoppable boulder rolling down the NL West’s mountain.
Injuries? Yes, you can blame those. The Dodgers have lost several stars in succession, as well as some of the men who were ably filling in for them like Zach McKinstry.
It’s clear, though, that there are a few Dodgers who have been able to stay on the field, but still have room to get even better in the coming weeks.
At least, as long as their advanced Statcast metrics are to be believed.
Per the underlying statistics, the Dodgers currently feature several stars who are watching the ball doink in where it should, rocking BABIPs to the sky (shoutout to Justin Turner, who ranks in the upper echelon of basically every metric possible, and is destroying the baseball this year).
There are a few Dodgers on both sides of the ball, though, who should be showing tangible improvement very soon.
Some of them featuring expected batting numbers well above where their statistics currently lie. Some of them are in the upper echelon of all MLBers in terms of velocity, soft contact, and all the elements of an All-Star season, but haven’t quite seen everything fall into place yet.
According to the data we have available, all three of these Dodgers still have another level or two to leap to this offseason.
These 3 Dodgers still have a ways to go to match their Statcast metrics.
3. Will Smith
It’s hard to complain about the effort Will Smith — aka the best catcher in baseball — has given us thus far in 2021, but it certainly could be better (and has been better, based on his metrics).
Up to this point, Smith is triple-slashing .243/.379/.486, which translates to a WOBA (weighted on-base average) of .368. His expected WOBA, though? All the way up at .414, red-hot and in the top 8% of all batters in MLB.
Yes, Smith is underperforming his expected results by nearly 50 points.
Is there an easy adjustment for our catcher to make to catch up to his batted-ball profile? Well, it would seem so; Smith is letting more meatballs go by than almost any other Dodgers hitter. While Corey Seager swings at a remarkable 95.8% of pitches right down the pike (wow, brag), and hitters like Justin Turner (79.4%) and Mookie Betts (78.7%) are swinging at their fair share, Smith only hacks at 65% of such offerings.
Smith isn’t alone, though. Perhaps he’s laying off those meatballs for a reason, since no one across MLB seems to be hitting them squarely anyway?
As the Dodgers round the corner into May, the bottom line is that Smith is performing well, but watching too many meatballs while waiting for his advanced metrics to catch up to his counting numbers.
We’ll take it, but better times should be ahead.