Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman at the top of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup is enough to give any opposing pitcher nightmares, but behind them is a formidable group that includes Will Smith.
Although Smith has yet to be named to a National League All-Star team, he has been the best offensive catcher in baseball since his MLB debut in 2019. With a career 135 wRC+, Smith has produced 13% more offense in that time frame than the next-closest catcher, Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.
Smith’s elite bat has continued to be a massive part of the Dodgers lineup that now sees him hitting in the cleanup spot for most games.
“I think he’s been kind of like that unsung hero,” Betts said of Smith. “Kind of gets looked over, but he bites you. He’s the one that gets you. He’s probably been one of our most consistent guys. He’s holding down that four-spot.
“All through the lineup we’ve got guys stepping up. The beauty of this lineup is each and every game it can be a different person, and it is a different person a lot of the times. Having Smitty right there, being the consistent one constantly driving in runs and constantly getting on base, that’s huge.”
Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes and manager Dave Roberts have also previously expressed their belief that Smith is among the game’s most underrated players.
“I think Will Smith is probably one of the most under appreciated players in the game,” Gomes said in June. “You could argue he’s the best all-around catcher right now.”
Smith is batting .274/.360/.479 with 18 home runs, 73 RBI, 53 runs scored, a 138 wRC+ and .363 wOBA in 103 games this year while handling MLB’s most effective pitching staffs, which makes his offensive contributions all the more impressive.
“It’s just natural for him,” Betts said. “He doesn’t have to think a whole lot about it. He just does it, and that’s what makes it easy.”
Roberts gets feedback about Will Smith
While Smith doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, he prefers to go about his business quietly and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. However, Roberts previously said he hears from opposing teams about how much they dislike facing Smith.
“He definitely goes unnoticed, just the consistency of his play,” Roberts said in July. “And obviously, he sort of just kind of puts his head down and doesn’t get the fanfare that other players do, and I don’t think he’d have it any other way.
“But I do know that other teams and managers know they don’t like when he’s in the batter’s box. And I hear it all the time from other coaches and players too.”
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