Free Agent Profile & Prediction #39: Justin Smoak

TORONTO, ON – JUNE 30: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 30, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The long time power hitting switch hitter Justin Smoak is entering free agency as a 34 year old, coming off of the worst season of his 11 year career. In 2020, Smoak ended with a .176/.250/.361 line with a .611 OPS, split between time with the Milwaukee Brewers and short stint with the San Francisco Giants. Between 2011-2019, Smoak was a great power hitting option at first base, totaling 188 home runs in that nine season span, with 38 in 2017, and his lone All-Star appearance. While hitting for average has never been in Smoak’s repertoire, being a career .229 hitter, he gets on base at a decent clip for his career at .322. This is because of a well above average ability to draw walks, having a career 12.4 BB%, but you couple that with his 24.9 percent K% for his career, and you get a three true outcome type of player, either striking out, walking or going yard. Smoak has never also been able to maintain any sort of consistency when it comes to hitting breaking balls, as he has only had a Batting Average above .200 once in his career against them, and in 2019-2020, he also struggled against pitcher fastballs, just managing a .187 average against them combined.

On top of his offensive struggles, he has a mixed bag of results according to sabermetric numbers at first base. DRS rates Smoak as a horrible defensive first baseman, posting -31 DRS for his career, UZR has Smoak as around average at 0.8 UZR for his career. Outs Above Average on the other hand, has seen Smoak be ranked as the best at gaining outs above the league average for his team, having 6 OAA in 2018 and 3rd with 7 OAA in 2017. Recent times have seen his numbers drop to +2 in 2019, and -1 in 2020, which makes sense considering the fact the is going towards the other side of 30.

Smoak at this point in his career, is not a shoe in for a Major League deal, and earning playing time with a club, he will have to show the capability to make more consistent contact moving forward.

These are the teams I believe are in contention for Smoak: Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies

Final Landing Spot Prediction: Justin Smoak signs a 1 yr/2 million dollar deal with the Washington Nationals

2021 Stat Line Prediction: .217/.301/.418 .719 OPS 9 HR 32 RBI

Published by riskomatt

I am a 23 year old college baseball player at Cumberland University. In the past I have worked for Baseball Info Solutions, I have coached at varying levels, ranging from youth, to collegiate. I am a sports management major in college, entering my senior year, with a minor in journalism. I love to write and I love baseball, so a blog seemed once again a great place to start. Former owner of Its Always Baseball Season sports blog.

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