If you thought that by the middle of June Justin Smoak would be considered one of the best first baseman in baseball, immediately contact your local baseball team and ask if they are hiring.
Rumour at the beginning of the season was that Smoak would be on the roster until July, with first base propsect Rowdy Tellez poised to take over. What a difference a couple of months can make. Not only has Smoak ably filled the massive void left by Edwin Encarnacion, but is currently playing at a higher level than his predecessor. At a time in the Blue Jays season when all hope seemed lost, Smoak rose to become a focal point for the team’s success.
Time to Give Justin Smoak the Respect He Deserves
Smoak was a castaway, deemed a “bust”. Last season, he had signed a two-year contract worth $8.25 million, plus a $6 million team option for 2019. When this announcement was made, Blue Jays fans went crazy, and not in a good way. Fans tried to run Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins out of town for an “inexcusable” contract. Now, fans and critics alike are singing the praises of the Jays front office.
Smoak didn’t have many fans. Some thought that he would get better with regular playing time, but few could have envisioned the season he’s put together. Still not sold on the mashing switch-hitter? Let the numbers do the talking.
Justin Smoak’s 2017 Stats
As of June 14th, here is where Smoak ranks among American League first basemen in offensive categories:
Smoak has had an incredible approach at the plate this year. He has calmed his stance down, which has allowed him to track the ball a little longer. He’s not swinging at pitches out of the zone as frequently, which is forcing pitchers to give him pitches in the strike zone instead of the dirt.
Is Smoak All-Star Game Worthy?
Absolutely. He ranks top three in almost every offensive category and is tied for second in home runs only to Aaron Judge. He has been nothing short of a revelation for the Blue Jays. The real travesty here is that Smoak is not even in the top five of the voting for American League first basemen. Given the season he is putting together, it would be a shame if he is not included at the All-Star Game in Miami.
He’ll probably get in to the All-Star game, just not as a starter.