Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Believes Will Smith Earned Opportunity To Move Up In Lineup
Will Smith
Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

For as big of an impact he made as a rookie, Will Smith has been just as impressive — if not better — in his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 25-year-old on the year is batting .310/.427/.607 with seven doubles, six home runs and 18 RBI in 91 plate appearances over 29 games. Among Dodgers players with a minimum of 90 plate appearances, he leads the team in wRC+ (175), wOBA (.430) and ISO (.298).

Smith particularly has swung a hot bat in September, hitting a stellar .444/.512/.722 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBI over 41 plate appearances (10 games).

Given the success he’s enjoyed as of late, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts felt it was an easy to move Smith up in the lineup. “For me, he’s shown me enough consistency with the at-bat quality,” Roberts said.

“The simplified approach, the plan, the mechanics, he hits to all fields, hits right and left, so I think he’s earned it. As we look out to finish the season, performance and my trust that Will is taking every at-bat, I just think he’s earned this opportunity to hit in the middle of the order.”

Now that Justin Turner is back from the 10-day injured list, Roberts expects Smith to hit fifth in the Dodgers lineup moving forward.

Digging deeper into the numbers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Smith has been one of the better Dodgers hitters this season.

His exit velocity of 91.1 mph is well above the Major League average (88.3), and the same can be said for his hard hit percentage of 48.6% (34.8).

Smith happy approach is paying off

Entering September, Smith found himself batting a mere .208 despite consistently hitting the ball hard. Now as more of his line drives fall for hits, his average has since climbed nearly 100 points.

“It feels good to see the average climbing up and numbers starting to creep up,” Smith said. “I’ve just kind of stuck to my process the whole year, stuck to my approach.

“Really haven’t deviated or lost too many at-bats getting off my approach. I stuck with it and it’s nice to see a couple soft hits fall and those liners falling. It feels good.”

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