Dodgers Value ‘Quality At-Bat’ From Will Smith More Than Power Swing

Much has been made of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup featuring former MVP winners Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman in the top three spots, but manager Dave Roberts and teammates have consistently mentioned the value Will Smith brings as well.

Smith’s importance within the Dodgers organization has long been documented, and his profile grew with signing a 10-year, $140 million contract extension prior to the Dodger Stadium opener this year.

While Betts, Ohtani and Freeman have largely dominated headlines, Smith’s own impressive start to the season has flown under the radar. But if there’s an area the 29-year-old has not yet hit his stride in, it’s the power swing.

Roberts nonetheless said he isn’t concerned and would rather Smith continue with a steady approach that in turn will fuel home runs and extra-base hits, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“Honestly, for me, I don’t want Will to chase homers,” Roberts said. “Slug(ing percentage) is more than just homers. He’s hit some doubles. He’s driving in runs. He’s getting on base. I think there’s more value in him taking a quality at-bat with runners in scoring position, to get a base hit to drive a run in versus get bigger with his swing and hit a couple more homers.

“The slug is going to be there. I’m not worried about Will hitting home runs.”

Smith hit his second home run of the season on Friday and also added a double while finishing with three RBI in the Dodgers’ 12-1 blowout win against the Toronto Blue Jays. His first homer of the year also came on the road in a game against the Minnesota Twins on April 9.

Smith entered play Saturday having produced back-to-back four-hit games. He joined Roy Campanella (1951) as the only catchers in Dodgers franchise history with consecutive four-hit games since at least 1901.

To Roberts’ point, Smith has six doubles this season, including four since April 19.

Will Smith impressed by Dodgers’ commitment

When discussing his excitement over signing a long-term extension, one of the areas of importance Smith raised was the Dodgers regularly being in position to contend for a World Series.

“For me to probably finish my career a Dodger, means a lot,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be happier or more excited moving forward. Looking forward, to me, there’s no better organization that’s more committed to winning a World Series. That’s the most important thing to me when it comes to baseball.”

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