Dave Roberts: Will Smith Likely To Bat Third In Dodgers Lineup

The Los Angeles Dodgers lineup and pitching staff for the 2023 season both feature a bit of a new feel, but the same core that has made them a perennial World Series contender remains intact.

From Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman to Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías, the Dodgers are certainly not lacking star power, and Will Smith continues to make a case for himself in that category every season.

Since making his MLB debut in 2019, Smith has hit .261/.356/.501 with a 132 wRC+, making him one of the best catchers, and hitters, in baseball, even if he doesn’t have the same name recognition as some of the other All-Stars.

With the departures of Trea Turner, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger in free agency, along with the addition of J.D. Martinez, the Dodgers lineup is going to look different this season. Betts is penciled into the leadoff spot, but following him, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has a lot of options to construct his lineup.

Last season, the top of the lineup consistently featured Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman, but now Roberts hinted that he’s leaning toward batting Smith third, via Doug Padilla of the Southern California News Group:

“It’s hard to go wrong with him in the three,” Roberts said. “A guy that can hit left, hit right, he can drive runs in, values the walk, so it makes sense.”

Roberts is not locked into Smith at third just yet, but batting him there would allow the lineup to swap right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters for much of the order, which is something the skipper has preferred to do in the past:

“Speaking to Will, just a guy that can hit in a lot of different roles and so it just allows for more optionality lineup construction-wise,” said Roberts, who was looking for a new hitter near the top of the order with the departure of Trea Turner. “He gets on base, knows how to drive in a run, he can hit for average, slug when we need that. So anywhere from three, four or five, yeah it makes sense.”

The likely Dodgers batting order would begin with Betts, followed by Freeman, Smith, Max Muncy and Martinez before the bottom four spots are filled by Miguel Rojas, Miguel Vargas, and two of Chris Taylor, James Outman, David Peralta, Trayce Thompson and Jason Heyward, depending on the pitcher.

The Dodgers lineup still projects to be among the best in baseball, regardless of what order the players are hitting. But if Smith is featured in the top of their lineup, he could finally begin to earn some of the national recognition he deserves, and there’s a good chance it would lead to a first career All-Star Game selection after two straight snubs.

Will Smith hopes to play in 2026 WBC

Smith was among the seven players from the Dodgers 40-man roster to participate in the World Baseball Classic this year, and he’s hopeful to remain on the Team USA roster when the international tournament returns in 2026.

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