Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights of the 2018 season. This time: Dwight Smith Jr.
People act as though Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio are the only bloodline prospects ever to come through Toronto’s farm system. Not true. Dwight Smith Jr., son of former Atlanta Brave and Chicago Cub, was taking hacks for the Blue Jays minor league affiliates long before that trio.
Never projected as more than a fourth outfielder, Dwight Smith Jr. played the role of 5th outfielder in 2018. The 25-yr-old outfielder began the season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, receiving his first call-up of 2018 on May 3rd for a day. He would log many miles, I mean kilometers, going between Buffalo and Toronto four times.
Despite being unable to claim an everyday spot on the Blue Jays roster, Smith’s 2018 season can be viewed in a positive light after setting new career highs in every MLB category.
It is very easy to find positives when you’re expected to play the entire season at Triple-A and manage to hold your own in 35 MLB games. Dwight Smith Jr. showed he wasn’t overmatched when facing major league pitches, improving his BB% (9.3) and K% (17.3) over last year numbers (12 GP).
I consider 35 games to be a small samples size but a .215 ISO with 8 doubles and 2 HR is nice to see. He hit his first career HR on May 24th, almost a year after making his MLB Debut (May 18th, 20117 near his hometown of Atlanta).
The 2011 comp A pick had one multi-hit game (2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI on May 3rd). His season high in RBI was 3 (July 3rd), his longest hit streak was 4 games, and his longest on-base streak was 8 games.
Smith Jr. batted .302 off RHP and batted better on the road (.270 vs .250). His best month in the majors was May when he slashed .300/.382/.533 with a home run and 4-RBI in 15 games (7 GS). He performed well in medium leverage situation with a .318 BA in 29 at-bats.
While in Buffalo DSJ showed improvement in ISO (.145 vs .119), OBP (.358 vs .350), and SLG% (.413 vs .392). These improvements resutled in better at-bats (0.54 BB/K) despite a lower BABIP (.294). Smith had an outstanding August, batting .320 with 3HR, 13 doubles, and 13 RBI in 25 games.
Smith used the entire field (35.8/30.2/.34.0) and made a lot of medium contact (56.6).
For me the lack of a running game is disappointing. Smith stole 25 bases in 2013. I really thought he’d be an average base stealing threat. Smith has not done a very good job of putting the ball in the air. He produced ground balls in 48.1% of his at-bats. His minor league GB% is worse at 52.5% versus just 29.0 FB%. Combine a lack of running game with a limited threat of going yard and we have an Ezequiel Carrera type outfielder.
Smith didn’t post very good numbers in the field either. He spent most of his time in LF where he posted a -3 DRS and -2.9 UZR. Not terrible but a definite low light when faced with a possible -27.4 UZR/150 if he were to get regular playing time. Honestly, I was going to put this in the highlight because I clearly remember DSJ booting a ball or two around the LF corner, balling a play horribly off the Green Monster, and missing judging a sliding catch. So I was expected his defensive metrics to be worse.
This offseason could be a really good one of Dwight Smith Jr.or a really bad one for him. With talk of non-tendering Kevin Pillar, Smith Jr. could find himself as the Blue Jays 4th outfielder heading into Spring Training. However, with the 40-man roster a little cluttered, the Blue Jays Front Office could decide to move Smith Jr. in favor of an open roster spot.
Dwight Smith Jr. will likely return to Buffalo to kick off the 2019 season. He has 2 minor league options remaining. He’s making the league minimum and under team control for 5 more seasons. This makes him a very nice depth piece behind Kevin Pillar, Randall Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, and Billy McKinney.
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.