Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
During the 2021 season, Will Smith established himself as one of the best catchers in baseball and he became a core piece for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Smith’s success continued into the 2022 season, but his role became even more important on the club that dealt with numerous injuries and slumps throughout the season. While Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor struggled at the plate, Smith moved his way up the Dodgers lineup and eventually settled into the cleanup spot.
During the 2021 season, Smith was moved up and down the lineup, hitting no more than 43 games at any specific slot in the order. But last season, he hit fourth 89 times while making 108 starts as the catcher and an additional 25 as the designated hitter.
In the first half of the season, Smith batted .272/.364/.478 with 14 home runs and a 139 wRC+, which ranked him 22nd among MLB’s top hitters, and 10th overall in the National League.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed his support for Smith to make the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, calling him “the best catcher in all of baseball,” and adding, “I think he’s probably one of the most underrated players in the game.”
Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes echoed that sentiment, saying “I think Will Smith is probably one of the most under appreciated players in the game. You could argue he’s the best all-around catcher right now.”
No catcher was more productive offensively, but despite that, Smith was once again snubbed from the All-Star team, marking the second consecutive season he was robbed of the honor.
His production took a step back in the second half of the season, but it was still a respectable slash line of .246/.317/.448 with 10 home runs and a 113 wRC+ to finish out the year.
Smith finished the season hitting .260/.343/.465 with 24 home runs, 87 RBI, 68 runs scored, a 127 wRC+ and 3.9 WAR. He also posted a career-high in triples, with three, with the final one coming on Sept. 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Austin Barnes also revealed Smith was the voice of the Dodgers PitchCom system for some time during the season, but joked they had to change it because “it was really bad.”
As the playoffs began, Smith and his wife Cara were expecting the birth of their first child to come soon, which put some additional stress on the 2020 World Series champion.
Charlotte Ann Smith was born in the morning hours before Game 4 of the NL Division Series, and the club arranged a helicopter ride for the backstop to return to the club before what was ultimately their final game.
In the postseason, Smith started all four games and took 17 plate appearances. He finished with two doubles, a single, and two RBI, giving him an overall line of .188/.176/.313. Like the rest of the Dodgers’ offense, Smith struggled, which helped lead to their early exit from October baseball.
Following the season, Smith was nominated for a Silver Slugger Award, which was ultimately won by Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto. Smith did, however, earn Second Team All-MLB honors.
Will Smith 2022 highlight
On Sept. 3, Smith drove in four runs, backed by a double and homer during a 12-1 route over the San Diego Padres, but perhaps his most impressive day came in a loss against the Philadelphia Phillies.
On May 12, Smith went 3-for-4 with a walk, double, run scored and three RBI. Despite a 7-9 loss, Smith posted a win probability added for the game of 0.391 and a championship win probability added of 0.28%, both were his highest marks of the season in a game.
Entering 2023, Smith will once again be one of the most important hitters on the Dodgers, especially with the loss of Trea Turner to the Phillies and a group of young players expected to fill significant roles. Smith is on a Hall of Fame trajectory with his offensive production from the catcher position, and he should earn his first All-Star selection in 2023.
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