Over the last few months I'd been hearing about how people were starting to give up on the potential of Justin Smoak.
Here's some news: Prospects in the MLB typically take longer to pan out than in the NFL. Last season was Smoak's first in the big leagues and we managed to obtain the young power hitter from Texas so they could rent Cliff Lee for a season before he skipped back home to Philly to create what may be the best pitching rotation the game has ever seen with Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels.
But the fact of the matter is that we got a top prospect from one of our rivals for essentially a short term of Cliff Lee being used against us, and Texas didn't even win a World Series.
So far this season, Smoak has hit .302 with four long balls, running in nine times and knocking in 14 others. That is good enough to be the 10th rated 1B in ESPN standard format fantasy leagues.
In the last week (only three games), Smoak has knocked in two home runs and eight RBI while getting home himself three times. He has gone four for 10 during that span. .400 is a pretty nice average for most players.
His plate discipline for someone his age and experience is truly a great asset for a team that needs to beat up and tire out opposing starters and relievers as quickly as possible. I bet that without Smoak we probably would have gone 1-2 against Detroit, if that. Horrible defense on their part or not, we wouldn't be able to expose them if we couldn't hit enough to get runners around the bases.
Is it a sign of things to come?
As a Mariners fan with a typical craving for as many wins as possible, I sure hope so. I doubt this team will be worse than last year if Smoak can continue to smash the ball, Chone Figgins continues to find his swing, Miguel Olivo keeps stinging the ball, Michael Saunders keeps improving, Adam Kennedy continues to be a reliable veteran presence filling in for Jack Strikeout and if Dustin Ackley can provide an offensive spark when he's called up. No, our lineup won't make anyone shake in their cleats, but with our pitching it may not have to.
And at least it wont be unfathomably, dismally and historically bad like last year.
If recent history holds true, the Mariners preform at their best when there is no expectation of them, and there really isn't anyone expecting them to do much, so I'd be willing to bet money on significant offensive improvement.
GMZ has us headed in the right direction, and I hope everyone who follows and loves this team as I do can cheer in unison whenever Mr. Smoak knocks a long one over the wall.