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My Case For Will Smith To Make The All Star Team

As we now know, Willson Contreras will be the starting catcher in the All Star Game. Contreras has a hamstring issue, but is back playing again.    The Cubs are trying to maximize their return on a Contreras trade.  Will he re-injure the hammy?  The Chicago Cubs baseball Gods are hoping he will not.

The Cubs cannot afford to not trade Contreras as he will be one of the top 2-3 players destined for the trade deadline extravaganza coming up in about three weeks.  At the beginning of July, I would have (and I probably did say) that Contreras was THE primary target of SFG.  But now 12.5 games out of the Division race, and 3.0 games behind in the WC race, the next three weeks will decide whether the Giants are buyers or sellers.

But there will not be a shortage of contenders making a pitch for Contreras.  One of those contenders will not be the Los Angeles Dodgers.  While Will Smith does not have the same pedigree of Contreras, he is still an All Star catcher.  He just has not been named to an All Star roster yet.

We will know on Sunday if the players voted Will Smith or Travis d’Arnaud with the second most player votes.  And if not, whether the Commissioner’s Office believes the NL needs a 3rd catcher.  Doc has certainly made it known how he feels about Will Smith being an All Star.  Both Smith and d’Arnaud are deserving to be All Stars, but every year there are AS snubs, and there is bound to be more this year.

I was torn between adding Freddie Freeman or Will Smith.  If Contreras does bow out, the decision is easy…both.  But if not, the roster needs a 3rd catcher more than a 3rd 1B.  I think Pete Alonso gets the nod for the 2nd 1B, and with Albert Pujols already on the roster, and C.J. Cron almost a sure thing as the Rockies AS representative, there really is not a need for a 5th 1B/DH.

But Will deserves it without being an injury replacement.  He is second for all qualified catchers in OPS.  He is one of only two catchers with an OPS north of .800 with at least 150 ABs (.802).  d’Arnaud is right behind at .795.  Both catchers have remarkedly similar batting lines:

  • Smith – .257/.348/.454/.802
  • d’Arnaud – .262/.315/.480/.795

d’Arnaud’s teammate, William Contreras, could also be in the equation, but he was on the ballot as a DH, so I would expect him to be an All Star as a DH.  It would be special for two brothers to be on the same All Star team.

Just as important, maybe even more so, Smith is the catcher for MLB’s best pitching staff.  LAD’s staff ERA is 2.91 while Atlanta’s is good, but far back at 3.59.  The Dodger’s ERA takes a hit because of all the injuries, especially to the relievers.  But through it all, Will Smith (and Austin Barnes) have navigated the entire staff to an elite status.

As we Dodger fans have come to learn, Smith is a clutch hitter.  He has 5 walk off hits as a Dodger.  The Dodgers have not had a clutch bat as good since Andre Ethier.  Smith has clutched up in post season games as well.  Just ask the Braves Will Smith.  Smith knows when he can extend his arms for that power, and he knows when to bring those hands in to get a knock on an inside pitch as he did Friday night.  When was the last time we saw Max Muncy or Cody Bellinger bring their hands in to get the barrel to the ball?

Smith has a top catcher pop time, and his arm and exchange are adequate.  His CS% is 21.2%, just a bit below ML average.  IMHO it would be better if the Dodger pitchers ever decided to hold runners on.  Last year, his CS % was 33.33%.  His first two years, it combined out to be at 30%.

Smith has a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of +3, while d’Arnaud has a -1.  Smith has a OPS+ of 122, while d’Arnaud has 115.  Smith has a bWAR of 2.3, while d’Arnaud has 0.9.

I have also gone out on a limb and stated that the Dodgers will have 3 pitchers on the roster…Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and Clayton Kershaw.  I recognize that Kershaw is a sentimental favorite, and would not be considered if the game was not in LA.  But it is.  It is an exhibition game, and it has been 30+ years since LA has had an ASG.  LAD leads the world in attendance every year.  If there is a year to add a sentimental favorite it is this year.

Besides, except for the limited # of IP, he is very worthy.

I projected the other SP’s as:

Other SP that would be considered:

You can make an argument for any of the 5, but not one of those pitchers is  more deserving than Clayton Kershaw.  How great would it be if Clayton Kershaw started the ASG in LA.?

Bottom line…offensively, defensively, pitch calling (working with pitchers), Smith is arguably the 2nd best catcher in the NL, and deserves to be a 2022 All Star on his own merits.  Make it so.

 

 

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Rob Schelling

I agree with some of Badger’s earlier comments. The All-Star game is a meaningless game for the fans and to generate income for ESPN and MLB. I would just as soon have the players rest and be prepared for the second half of the season. As for the game itself, I just as soon they not play it. Instead, they should do as they do in college, name an All-American team at the end of the season and call it good.

I still have memories of Alex Wood’s great 11-0 start, and then being plagued by injuries and a performance drop-off the second half of the season. His appearance was made worse by the fact that the announcers didn’t even acknowledge that he was in the game, choosing instead to babble non-stop over the greatness of Yadier Molina. Was that drop-off as a result of his participation in the all-star game? I don’t know, but it’s happened far to often, not to be a concern. Definitely, if I was GM, I would never allow my players to participate in the home-run derby. That screws up their swing big time.

As to Will Smith, he is a good catcher, as good as any of the others in the league. Perhaps he should make the team, but an argument can also be made for d’Arnaud.

It would be an great moment for the LA fans, I suppose, if Kershaw got the starting nod. A good case can also be made for Fried. He’s a really good pitcher. If they considered the stats from last year’s all-star game today. Fried and Urias would be the top 2 selections.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rob Schelling
Bumsrap

Supporting Smith isn’t controversial enough apparently to generate many comments or, our fellow commenters are still sleeping off a wild Saturday night.

Yes to Kershaw starting the All Star game. He should have started one several times before. He probably should have won two more Cy Young awards as well.

In the next two weeks if the Giants don’t turn things around there is a good chance Joc will be traded. The Dodgers don’t need him as long as Lamb and Trace are producing. When Taylor returns, where would Joc, Trace, Lamb, and Taylor play assuming Muncy gets to be a regular regardless of how bad he stucks.

Badger

Since it’s in LA, this year can be an exception. Yes, let a half dozen Dodgers be introduced. It’s not like they have to fly to the East Coast and sleep in a 4 Seasons for a few days. That would be awful. They get to go home each night. I just don’t want any pitchers pitching. If Kershaw and Gonsolin are between starts and it could be considered a bullpen day, ok. Maybe. 15 pitches max. I’d rather they rest up. I’d rather they ALL rest up. But I get it. It’s LA. Here’s a suggestion – let all the Western Division players play all day.

Badger

Lux. Looks like a Little Leaguer out there today. Like you just said Jeff, both those balls were catchable.

Long way to go. And appears to be a bullpen game.

Fred Vogel

Keep Lux at 2B. It must kill his confidence each game he’s forced to play LF.

OhioDodger

Yes, leave Lux at 2nd base. How much longer do we have to watch the Muncy farce?

Fred Vogel

Anyone know why Phillips was unavailable? He only threw one pitch yesterday.

Bluto

Mike W: Gavin Stone not slowing down in AA, has he passed up Bobby Miller?
Keith Law: Stone’s a good prospect but he’s not close to Miller. That’s stat-line scouting. Miller was in my preseason top 50 because he has a very good chance to be not just a starter, but a good one.

Justin: Does trading Bryan Reynolds make sense for the Pirates right now? Do you think they’re at all close to winning if they keep him or do they stand to gain more by obtaining the haul they would get in a trade?
Keith Law: I think they have to trade him now – both from a rebuilding perspective and that of his likely value going forward.

RTJ: What do the Dodgers do with Max Muncy? A healthy amount of walks, but can they really keep trotting him out therewith a .170 BA?

Ben Clemens: They can!
I actually think he’s starting to get back towards normal, even. Looks better at the plate in recent weeks. I still think he’s hurt, so I’d be considering giving him an IL stint if the lead widens out in the division.

Justin Is Andy Pages shaping up to be a Joc Pederson/Kyle Schwarber/Rhys Hoskins type who hits .240 with 30 hrs? Or is Pages expected to have a better hit tool?

Jay Jaffe I’m not the prospect guy but Eric’s write-up of him intrigues me (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/los-angeles-dodgers-top-51-prospects-2022/). Definitely seems like he’s got the power and contact issues to fit in that camp but he also has more defensive ability. “His speed under way and his defensive instincts give him a chance to stay in center field, which would obviously give Pages a little more margin for error as a hitter. If he stays in center, he has a star-level ceiling. If not, then he has a whiff-prone, traditional right field profile driven by obvious impact power.”

Smiling Politely: I remember using Mike Brito as a landmark at Dodger Stadium to give my friend directions to our seats because everyone could spot him with the hat and the radar gun. He was the Polaris of the park, and it’s hard to think about it without him and Vin in it. Anyways — Gavin Lux is quietly approaching a .300 avg/380 OBP. Do you think his power creeps up over time? I think of him as a guy whose development got interrupted by COVID and ppl forgot about.

Jay Jaffe: Maybe a bit, but I think that even with the strong grades (65 raw, 60 game from 2020) it’s worth noting that he’s only sustained his power numbers in hitter-friendly environments. The guy’s 24 year old with a 122 wRC+ and the ability to play competent-or-better defense at multiple positions. That should be plenty.

BettsBellingerCaruso: Kimbrel! Will he perform to his 2.00 FIP level or do you think there’s something off w/ him that just gets him unable to deal w/ a runner on base?

Jay Jaffe: He’s got mechanical issues (“too rotational” is a term both Cubs and Dodgers coaches used) that he can’t seem to shake and that seem to manifest themselves more when he’s got men on base. I’d think he could clear them eventually but here we are.

Tony: At this point, if I set the over/under at 0.5 for the HOF chances of Kimbrel, Chapman, Jansen, which side are you taking?

Jay Jaffe: Under. Very rough year for Kimbrel and Chapman. Jansen was pitching pretty well until being sidelined by an irregular heartbeat again.
On hearing the news about Jansen a couple weeks ago it occurred to me that people forget Atlanta is 1,000 feet above sea level, which makes it one of the higher-altitude parks, and altitude can have an effect on arrhythmias. I wonder if that’s been a factor.

AnotherAnnoyingDodgerFan: What kind of starter (e.g. Ace, #2-3, 4-5) do you think Tony Gonsolin settles in as long-term?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t think anybody really knows but 2 or 3 seems possible right now, particularly as he’s going 6-7 innings routinely these days.

Chase: Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas good fits for the Dodgers? Another package for Juan Soto possible at the deadline?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the Dodgers are going to go that big at the deadline. Definitely not big enough to land Soto

The LA Times had a piece on the Dodgers’ prospects who are going to the Futures Game. It was highlighted with quotes from Dodgers director of player development Will Rhymes

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-07-07/dodgers-prospect-miguel-vargas-mlb-futures-game

Rhymes said Vargas has also shown improvement defensively, both at his primary spot at third base, as well as in the outfield, where he’s played a handful of games recently for the first time in his pro career.

“He’s just growing into the total package,” Rhymes said.

It’s been noticed by others around the organization, too.

Dodgers veteran Jake Lamb said he and Vargas grew close during Lamb’s time in Oklahoma City this year, despite their nine-year age gap.

“He’s an elite, elite bat who can just freaking hit, but I just love how he goes about the game,” Lamb said. “Obviously he has some things to learn here or there when he gets to the big leagues, but he’s having so much fun just playing baseball.”

“He’s just growing into the total package,” Rhymes said.

It’s been noticed by others around the organization, too.

Dodgers veteran Jake Lamb said he and Vargas grew close during Lamb’s time in Oklahoma City this year, despite their nine-year age gap.

“He’s an elite, elite bat who can just freaking hit, but I just love how he goes about the game,” Lamb said. “Obviously he has some things to learn here or there when he gets to the big leagues, but he’s having so much fun just playing baseball.”

“We’re thrilled with Diego,” Rhymes said, noting that several of Cartaya’s advanced statistics, including the all-encompassing wRC+ metric, rank him “as the best hitter in our organization.”

“For a guy in his second full season, we absolutely love Bobby’s progress,” Rhymes said. “What he’s working on is sequencing and finding his arsenal and how to harness the power arsenal he has. Against both lefties and righties, and how to navigate a lineup multiple times. But he’s getting better.”

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