Justin Smoak
Justin Smoak
32-Year-Old First Baseman1B
Toronto Blue Jays
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Smoak paired an elevated launch angle with his usually solid plate discipline to submit a long-awaited breakout in 2017. While he was a productive hitter on the whole again last season (121 wRC+), most of his success was derived from his 0.53 BB/K rather than maintaining his prior gains in the power department. Smoak lost 13 home runs from his 2017 total, with that decline likely attributable to a 2.2-degree drop in his launch angle and sizable corresponding downturns in his hard-hit and barrel rates. The 32-year-old shouldn't be written off entirely as a rebound candidate for 2019. Another 25-homer, high-OBP/low-average campaign could await Smoak, who had his $8 million option exercised by Toronto in the offseason. That profile is useful enough in real-life terms, but not as much in the fantasy realm. Read Past Outlooks
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$Toronto picked up his $8 million option for 2019 in October of 2018.
Sitting Wednesday
1BToronto Blue Jays
August 14, 2019
Smoak is out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Rangers.
ANALYSIS
Smoak will cede first base to the recently recalled Rowdy Tellez in the series finale, and it's unclear if there will be room for both players in the lineup on an everyday basis. Per Scott Mitchell of TSN.ca, manager Charlie Montoyo said Tuesday that Tellez "will get a lot of playing time" following his promotion, which may leave Smoak and Brandon Drury to contend for the remaining spot in the starting nine in most games. Though he's largely struggled in the second half, Smoak has helped his cause by showing slightly better form at plate of late, tallying seven hits -- including a home run and two doubles -- in 26 at-bats over the past seven games.
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
4
25
21
11
10
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
2
10
9
3
4
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2017
 
 
+12%
OPS vs RHP
2019
 
 
+33%
OPS vs RHP
2018
 
 
+26%
OPS vs RHP
2017
 
 
+14%
OPS vs LHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2017vs Left .760 464 40 14 47 0 .257 .349 .411
Since 2017vs Right .854 1187 160 68 172 0 .241 .354 .500
2019vs Left .626 129 13 2 11 0 .209 .326 .300
2019vs Right .830 291 35 17 41 0 .214 .364 .466
2018vs Left .688 192 11 5 18 0 .235 .318 .371
2018vs Right .867 402 56 20 59 0 .245 .366 .501
2017vs Left .977 143 16 7 18 0 .331 .413 .565
2017vs Right .856 494 69 31 72 0 .252 .338 .518
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2017
 
 
+1%
OPS on Road
2019
 
 
+2%
OPS at Home
2018
 
 
+5%
OPS on Road
2017
 
 
+2%
OPS at Home
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2017Home .823 860 109 42 110 0 .242 .352 .471
Since 2017Away .832 791 91 40 109 0 .249 .353 .479
2019Home .772 233 29 12 25 0 .204 .348 .424
2019Away .757 187 19 7 27 0 .222 .358 .399
2018Home .787 309 36 11 38 0 .240 .346 .441
2018Away .830 285 31 14 39 0 .244 .354 .475
2017Home .892 318 44 19 47 0 .271 .362 .531
2017Away .874 319 41 19 43 0 .269 .348 .527
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Stat Review
How does Justin Smoak compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity and Barrels/PA % are benchmarked against this season's data (min 200 PA) and Hard Hit Rate is benchmarked against last season's data (min 400 PA). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • BB/K
    Walk to strikeout ratio
  • BB Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a walk.
  • K Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a strikeout.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.
  • ISO
    Isolated Power. Slugging percentage minus batting average. A computation used to measure a batter's raw power.
  • AVG
    Batting average. Hits divided by at bats.
  • OBP
    On Base Percentage. A measure of how often a batters reaches base. Roughly equal to number of times on base divided by plate appearances.
  • SLG
    Slugging Percentage. A measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats.
  • OPS
    On base plus slugging. THe sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • wOBA
    Weighted on-base average. Measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance. wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Hard Hit Rate
    A measure of contact quality from Sports Info Solutions. This stat explains what percentage of batted balls were hit hard vs. medium or soft.
  • Barrels/PA
    The percentage of plate appearances where a batter had a batted ball classified as a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
BB/K
0.81
 
BB Rate
16.7%
 
K Rate
20.5%
 
BABIP
.225
 
ISO
.201
 
AVG
.212
 
OBP
.352
 
SLG
.413
 
OPS
.765
 
wOBA
.343
 
Exit Velocity
90.2 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
43.6%
 
Barrels/PA
7.3%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Smoak, long considered a bust as a first-round pick, went off for a career-high 38 home runs last season, and it's rather difficult to poke holes in his performance. In his age-30 campaign, Smoak trimmed his strikeout rate by more than 11 percentage points (to 20.1 percent) while adding 138 points to his slugging percentage (.529 SLG). As Smoak explained to Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs, he learned to lay off more pitches outside the strike zone -- particularly the curveball -- and was better at making contact with pitches out of the zone when he did swing at them. While Smoak's batting average fell to .241 in the second half, he improved his walk rate considerably after the break (from 9.3 percent to 13.8 percent) while maintaining a strikeout rate right around 20 percent. He hit from both sides of the plate and his home/road splits were marginal. Playing time concerns are justified, but we're buying into Smoak's development as a player.
Smoak looked primed for a big 2016 when platoon-mate Chris Colabello was suspended in April for violating the league's substance abuse policy. However, Smoak couldn't capitalize on the opportunity and found himself regularly sitting on the bench by season's end. He had a strong May (.309 with five homers), but hit just .176 with nine home runs in the other five months combined. The first baseman struggled so much that manager John Gibbons reluctantly moved the defensively-challenged Edwin Encarnacion from DH to an everyday job in the field. Smoak's 32.8 percent strikeout rate was the sixth highest in all of MLB for players with at least 330 plate appearances. Steve Pearce will start against lefties and Rowdy Tellez, one of the Jays' top prospects, could give Smoak a run for his money by midseason.
After a disastrous 2014 season, Smoak found new digs north of the border and put together a strong season. While a sub-.300 on-base percentage is less than ideal, Smoak is an excellent defender at first base and provides a nice platoon bat. Chris Colabello came out of nowhere and finding him at-bats became increasingly difficult due to Smoak’s strong play. Smoak, Colabello and Edwin Encarnacion should split time at first base and designated hitter, though Smoak may end up seeing the shortest end of that stick. His defense and switch-hitting abilities will find him as a late-inning replacement, particularly when Encarnacion is manning first, but is the worst hitter of their three options.
Smoak, the centerpiece of the return package from the Rangers for Cliff Lee in 2010, hit just .224/.309/.380 with 66 homers in parts of five seasons with the Mariners. Seattle finally gave up on him last season, and he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in October. He posted a career-low .614 OPS in 80 games with the Mariners in 2014, but he'll at least provide Toronto with some depth and could make a run at semi-regular playing time, with Adam Lind shipped off to Milwaukee in the offseason.
With nearly 2,000 major-league plate appearances, it's probably time to just accept Smoak for what he is –- a streaky, low-average hitter with a bit of power who struggles with contact and can't hit lefties despite switch-hitting. His batting average likely will always be feeble as long as his contract rate remains in the mid-70s (74 percent last season). He has home-run power but last year's .412 slugging percentage was a career high. His hot streaks, such as the one he went on last year after he came off the disabled list, are usually propelled by inflated BABIP and flyball rates that eventually normalize. Sure, he can draw some walks, but he's useless against lefties (.192/.274/.548 last season). Perhaps the Rangers knew what they were doing when they traded him to the Mariners in 2010 for Cliff Lee.
Smoak entered last season needing to prove he was the long-term answer at first base for the Mariners. He spent most of the season, though, just trying to prove he was better than the Mendoza Line. The Mariners finally had enough by late July and sent him to Triple-A with a .189 average. He returned in mid-August with a shortened swing and finished the season with a flourish, hitting .394 with a 1.177 OPS and five homers in his final 18 games. It was an encouraging finish, but it wasn't the only time he got hot last year. In fact, he looked like he had found his swing with a month-long hot streak early in the season only to then slump to a .394 OPS (not a misprint) in the 39 games before his demotion. Ultimately, Smoak did not prove what he needed to last season, and the Mariners appear to have given up on him, acquiring Kendrys Morales to handle the bulk of first-base duty and Mike Morse, who can back up first if needed. Smoak is headed back to Triple-A if he isn't traded.
After a promising start to the season, Smoak's 2011 turned rocky by early summer. He struggled through July, watching his average drop nearly 50 points from its late-June high of .264. He played only three games in August because of separate injuries. And all that came after his father passed away earlier in the year. Instead of solidifying his spot in the middle of the lineup, Smoak still has questions to answer. The Mariners are in the market for more power, but if they sign a first baseman, Smoak likely would be kept around as the DH. Either way, Smoak has something to prove in 2012.
Smoak was the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee deal last season, heading to Seattle with the opportunity to be a middle-of-the-order power bat and first baseman for the foreseeable future. He struggled at times with Texas after his callup, and then the Mariners sent him to Triple-A after a .439 OPS in 16 games. He returned in mid-September and warmed up over the final 10 games with 15 hits, three doubles, three homers, nine RBI and seven walks. If he can carry that over to 2011, he'll be in fine shape. If not, he'll have plenty of time to figure things out as he has first base all to himself.
Smoak struggled at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting just .244/.363/.360 in 197 at-bats following a decent showing at Double-A Frisco (.326/.450/.483 in 178 at-bats). He continues to show an excellent batting eye, drawing 52 walks and fanning just 55 times in 375 at-bats on the season. The lack of power is a tad troubling, though we'll give him another go at Triple-A Oklahoma City before we get too concerned. Where he fits in behind Chris Davis once he arrives in Texas will largely depend on how each player progresses over the next 12-18 months.
Smoak draw comparisons to Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira after being a first-round pick in June, and his brief pro debut (.304/.355/.518 in 56 at-bats) at Low-A Clinton was solid after agreeing to terms right at the deadline in early August. His AFL campaign was solid as well, and he should see time at Double-A Frisco by year's end. Where he fits long-term with Chris Davis at first base remains to be seen, but it's a nice problem to have.
More Fantasy News
Busts out of slump
1BToronto Blue Jays
August 13, 2019
Smoak went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and four RBI in Monday's win over the Rangers.
ANALYSIS
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Starting at DH
1BToronto Blue Jays
August 12, 2019
Smoak is starting at DH and hitting cleanup Monday against the Rangers, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports.
ANALYSIS
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Out versus southpaw
1BToronto Blue Jays
August 9, 2019
Smoak is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Yankees.
ANALYSIS
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Sitting Tuesday
1BToronto Blue Jays
August 6, 2019
Smoak is not in Tuesday's lineup against the Rays.
ANALYSIS
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Not in Tuesday's lineup
1BToronto Blue Jays
July 30, 2019
Smoak is not in the lineup against the Royals, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports.
ANALYSIS
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