Dodgers catcher Will Smith has yet to catch fire offensively in 2021. Entering this season, Smith owned a career regular season OPS of .937. Many expected Smith to be one of the best, if not the best, hitting catchers in baseball this season. It hasn’t come to fruition. Yet.
Smith is slashing .242./.351/.432 (.782 OPS) thus far, down from his career norms. Before Tuesday’s win, he discussed his lack of offensive production this season.
“I feel like I’ve been grinding all year. Trying to make adjustments. Trying to get better contact and get more hard hit balls in play. I just don’t feel great in the box. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how you feel in the box. You got to be able to compete at-bat to at-bat.”
As uncomfortable as he feels in the batter’s box currently, he hasn’t lost his batter’s eye. Smith owns the lowest strikeout rate (15.5%) of any catcher in the MLB with at least 80 plate appearances.
The 26-year-old backstop also admitted that his swing is not where he wants it to be right now.
“I haven’t really had my A’ swing much in the box much this year. It’s just trying to compete and help the team win.”
Manager Dave Roberts, like most things with the Dodgers in 2021, isn’t concerned about his young catcher’s bat.
“He’s grinding and I feel good with his at-bats.”
Smith’s Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) of .260 suggests that he’s had some bad luck when making contact. The league average is typically right around .300.
Despite not living up to his own standard, Smith still ranks in the top ten in OPS, wRC+, OBP, SLG, and average for catchers.
Will Smith's powerful hitting, Austin Barnes' work behind the plate and Keibert Ruiz's encouraging debut combined to bring the Dodgers catching production in 2020 and reasons for excitement at the spot moving forward.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) January 21, 2021
If he can stay selective and get some friendly bounces, Dodgers fans might be watching grade “A” Will again soon.