2023 needs to be the year Will Smith figures out his postseason struggles with Dodgers

Will Smith can't slump in the postseason this time around. The Dodgers need him.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Dodgers could not ask for more when it comes to catcher Will Smith's performance in 2023.

Smith made his first All-Star game this past July and is continuing his consistent offensive success, further establishing himself as one of the few top hitting catchers in MLB. Smith has done all this while anchoring a pitching staff that has been a revolving door of starters and relievers thanks to injuries, trades and free agency moves.

So what more does Smith have to do help the Dodgers in 2023?

In his short five-year Dodgers career, Smith has been a mainstay in one of the best lineups in baseball He's been as consistent as they come in the regular season, but he hasn't shone as brightly is in October.

Smith has definitely had moments in the playoffs, we're not saying he's been unplayable. In 2020 he had a five-hit game in the clinching win over the San Diego Padres in the NLDS. Smith became the first catcher, the first player in Dodgers franchise history, and the ninth major league player ever to accomplish that feat in a postseason game.

In the 2020 NLCS against the Braves with the Dodgers down 3-1 in the series, Smith hit a three-run homer to give them the lead in Game 5 to spark the Dodgers comeback in a series they would eventually win.

Despite those successes, however, Smith has yet to put together a strong October. He's hit above .300 in just two of the nine series he's played with the Dodgers, and, overall his .204 average with a .654 OPS in his postseason career well below his regular season numbers of .264 and .848.

This year, the spotlight will burn brighter on Smith because he will have more pressure to perform. In the past, Smith was just a supporting cast member with veteran sluggers Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Corey Seager batting ahead of him in the lineup.

All of those players are gone now and Smith should be relied upon to be a big bat in the lineup. With the likes of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hitting in front of him, Smith has to produce in the big moments of October baseball that will determine a game and possibly a series.

Elite catchers are expected to manage a baseball game on the field while also producing with the bat. That creates a lot of expectations for a ballplayer and it's magnified in the pressure cooker that is postseason baseball. That's probably why only seven catchers have won World Series MVP honors (which has only happened once in the last 30 years).

Smith doesn't need to be World Series MVP in order for the Dodgers to be the last team stadning, but if he's not in the conversation for it, then the Dodgers might have another early or disappointing exit on their hands.

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