Dodgers News: Freddie Freeman Calls Will Smith ‘Best Catcher in the Game’
There’s a short list of superstar catchers in the MLB. Dodgers soon-to-be-All-Star Will Smith is one of them.
Entering the 2023 season, Smith was ranked as the third-best catcher in baseball by most experts. J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies and Adley Rutschman of the Orioles were usually ahead of him. Dodger fans knew the disrespect was real, but that lack of recognition for Smith was nothing new.
Despite back-to-back All-Star caliber seasons for Smith, he’s never made the team.
In 2021, Smith slashed .258/.365/.595 with 25 home runs and 76 RBIs. In 2022, Smith slashed .260/.343/.465 with 24 home runs and a career-best 87 RBIs. Both years, he received no recognition.
This year, though, Smith is making sure to leave no doubt. Entering Saturday’s game against the Padres, Smith is slashing an incredible .325/.423/.614 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 23 games. His 1.038 OPS doesn’t qualify among league leaders yet — as he missed over two weeks with a concussion — but if it did, it would rank second in all of baseball.
The Dodgers know they have a superstar catcher on their hands, and Smith’s teammates weren’t shy in giving him the recognition he deserves.
“For us, he’s been a superstar,” Freddie Freeman said to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. “In our opinion, he’s the best catcher in the game.”
The praise didn’t stop with Freeman. Ardaya also spoke to Clayton Kershaw, who knows Smith belongs among the top catchers in the game.
“Will’s kind of been there in that upper echelon, top tier of catchers,” Kershaw said. “I think he has all the skills and the athleticism — he’s like Realmuto to me.”
Smith is sure putting himself on the “top catcher in baseball” radar this year. He’s also been somewhat of a catalyst for the Dodgers this season.
In the 23 games Smith has played in, the Dodgers are an incredible 17-6. In the 16 games he’s missed, they’re just 7-9.
There was a bit of a concern entering this season in who would replace Trea Turner in the Dodgers’ lineup. Turner was the Dodgers’ three-hitter for most of the season, and thrived in that role. With him gone, and without Justin Turner, the Dodgers needed someone to step up. Smith has been that guy.
If Smith continues to play the way he’s playing right now, there’s going to be no doubt that he makes his first All-Star team. If Smith continues to play the way he’s playing right now, he’s going to have his name right next to Realmuto as the best catcher in baseball. If Smith continues to play the way he’s playing right now, he’s going to have his name right next to Freeman and Mookie Betts as the superstars in this Dodgers lineup.
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