Just like we all predicted when he signed that contract extension last year, Justin Smoak has been voted in as the starting first baseman for this year’s All-Star game in Miami.
This is a well-deserved selection for Smoak who, at 30 years of age, is enjoying a breakout season with the Blue Jays. Smoak has already set a career-high with 22 home runs, and his .960 OPS and 150 wRC+ currently rank 10th and eighth respectively in baseball.
Smoak has always had a lot of skill, but until this season, he never put it together. He was the 11th overall pick by the Texas Rangers back in 2008 and was traded to Seattle as the centrepiece in a Cliff Lee deal in 2010. Nobody expected Smoak to pull it together at this stage in his career, but he joins a pretty impressive list of late bloomers — Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Marco Estrada — who have hit their stride with the Blue Jays in recent years.
This season hasn’t produced many bright spots for the Blue Jays, but Smoak has certainly been one. Hats off to him for figuring it out and earning a very well-deserved spot on this summer’s All-Star team. Hopefully it’s the first of many!