ustin Smoak is having a moment. A well-deserved moment, at that. And I don’t just mean that he seems to have suddenly transformed himself into a hitter capable of delivering on all the massive promise he showed early in his career. I also mean that observers throughout the game are truly taking notice.
On one hand, how could they not? Smoak’s 150 wRC+ currently ranks as the 15th best in baseball (and first among AL first basemen). His 17 home runs have vaulted him ahead of early-season sensation Eric Thames, placing him just one behind the Yankees’ much talked-about Aaron Judge. Crazier still, among the 28 players with 14 home runs or more, only Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, and Mike Moustakas have struck out less.
On the other hand, it’s been a very, very long time since this much positive has been written about Smoak. Probably not since he was dealt from the Rangers to Seattle—the city he and the Blue Jays will be visiting this weekend—as the key part of a package for Cliff Lee. In just one of what were countless examples from at the time, Jay Yencich of M’s blog U.S.S. Mariner looked at Smoak as a potential solution at first base for the club, suggesting that “there’s a good chance Smoak not only holds the position down, but becomes an all-star player in the Mark Teixeira mold for the next five+ years.”