Now this is a story, all about hell, how Will Smith’s bat is what the Dodgers needed after all. Okay, I want to apologize for that. It’s super cheesy, but it’s the only way to express how important Smith’s bat is to this Los Angeles Dodgers‘ offense.
After their last series against the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers All-Star catcher went on the injured list and missed games because of the MLB concussion protocol. The team went on to lose seven out of the thirteen games Smith missed.
During Smith’s absence, the Dodgers lost three out of the four series played. The offense hit a funk and couldn’t find a way to score runs, scoring less than five runs in eight of the thirteen games.
The catching position has a depth chart that is littered with top-prospect options. Smith is followed by the Dodgers organization’s top prospect, Diego Cartaya. The option behind Cartaya is the organization’s 7th prospect. With the addition of the designated hitter to the National League, extending Smith should be at the top of the priority list.
Prioritizing Smith only became evident when he returned to the lineup. Here’s why his presence in the lineup was the cure the Dodgers’ offense needed during their early struggles.
Will Smith Is the Key To The Dodgers’ Success
The Big Three
Every franchise needs a big three. Whether it’s Lebron, Wade, and Bosh or Curry, Thompson, and Green, having three players set the tone for a team is important. The Dodgers have had their fair share of combinations.
Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman took the league by storm last year, leading the team to 111 wins. After Trea’s departure, the big three were missing one of their representatives. Instead of relying on the front office to sign a household name player, Will Smith promoted himself.
Having Betts, Freeman, and Smith at the top of the lineup helps the Dodgers’ offense set the tone. They may be bland but their offensive numbers give the team enough swag to forget how boring they can be.
The Barnes Situation
Austin Barnes will forever be remembered as the player that knocked out Blake Snell during Game six of the 2020 World Series. His hit will live in Dodgers lore for the rest of the team’s history. As a veteran, his presence on the team can help players like Cartaya and their current rookies develop.
Unfortunately, his offensive numbers do not justify playing him over Smith. During Smith’s injury, Barnes hit .079. However, his framing skills can be masterful. When Barnes is behind the plate, his glove framing has influenced many calls from the umpire. At this point, his at-bats only come when Clayton Kershaw is pitching.
Starting him on occasion to give Smith a break while the Dodgers wait for Barnes’ numbers to improve will suffice. His at-bats would be more helpful if given to Cartaya to aid the development process. As of now, the front office doesn’t plan to give major league at-bats to Cartaya, which makes Will Smith’s presence even more important.
Since Smith returned to the lineup, the Dodgers have not lost a series. They have also come from behind in games and in series to win and are currently in first place.
Smith is currently hitting .325 with six home runs, a WAR of 1.5, and a slugging percentage of .625.
I really don’t need to say anything else and just let Smith’s numbers do the talking. The Dodgers are just a different team when he’s in the lineup. Dave Roberts should give him breaks and nurture him because the Dodgers will need him to be at his peak in October.
Main Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports