When a team is this loaded with talent, lesser known players tend to fly under the radar. Dodgers catcher Will Smith has one of the best bats in the league for his position. And, really, not enough baseball fans have taken notice.
Smith came up to the Dodgers for good in late July of 2019. The University of Louisville product immediately made an impact. The first round pick slashed .270/.353/.649 that August. Admittedly, he tapered off in the latter part of the year and didn’t hit well in the playoffs.
However, Smith got back on track in 2020 (.980 OPS) and delivered a go-ahead three run homer in Game 5 of the NLCS.
The jury was still out on a player that only appeared in 91 MLB games. A verdict has been reached 2021. Will Smith is a top-tier major league catcher.
2021 Will Smith by the Numbers
For 2021, Smith only trails sure-fire-Hall-of-Famer Buster Posey in OPS, wRC+, and wOBA. For those that prefer old school counting stats, Smith is top five amongst catchers (min. 250 plate appearances) in RBI (3rd), home runs (5th), and walks (3rd).
Now 179 games into this professional career, the 25-year-old has proven that his hot Dodgers debut was not a fluke.
One could make the argument that his pitch recognition is the best part of his offensive game. Smith has an 11.5% walk rate, third-best behind Buster Posey (surprise!) and Gary Sanchez (kind of a surprise). Having a catcher that isn’t an automatic out is a vital element of the Dodgers’ vaunted batting lineup length.
The defense remains a work in progress for Smith, but he has the potential to be better in that department. He graded out as an above average catcher as a prospect. His defense was the main reason he rose so quickly through the minors.
He isn’t spoken about as often as many of his Dodgers teammates, but his offensive stats speak otherwise.