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Home CALIFORNIA Will Smith has made Dodgers’ ‘Big Three’ into a foursome

Will Smith has made Dodgers’ ‘Big Three’ into a foursome

SAN FRANCISCO – The Dodgers have ridden the power trio at the top of their lineup to the best record in baseball.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman rank in MLB’s top 10 for WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – the specific number depending on which formula you prefer – with Trea Turner just outside the top 10. No team in MLB history has rolled out a lineup with each of the first three hitters in MLB’s top 10 for WAR.

But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it doesn’t stop there.

“It’s been the ‘Big Four’ for me for quite some time,” he said, referring to Will Smith who moved into the fourth spot in the order in early July. “I think that he doesn’t have the name cachet so it’s kind of held. But if you look at numbers and talking to opposing managers of having him in the number four, it’s been the ‘Big Four’ for quite some time. He’s solidified kind of the top of the order.”

Smith went into Sunday’s game ranking second on the Dodgers in home runs (22), third in RBI (82) – and fourth in slugging percentage (.464), OPS (.812) and OPS-plus (121, tied with Justin Turner).

Smith settled into the fourth spot behind Betts, Trea Turner and Freeman in early July after Betts returned from a rib injury.

“I sort of expected this from Will,” Roberts said of Smith who had a higher OPS (.860) last season. “I just think that he’s just a smart player. He’s always watching the right things, and the right people. I know he has the ability to hit with two strikes. I know he has the ability to hit to all fields. He hits right and left(-handed pitchers). He values the walk. So those are really good ingredients that I know he possesses.

“To kind of see where he’s at in his career, that’s why I had no hesitancy hitting him in the four (spot).”

That Smith is doing it while carrying the heavy load required of a catcher makes him that much more valuable to the Dodgers. Seven of his home runs and 18 of his RBI have come during 31 starts at DH. But only one catcher in MLB has hit more home runs (Seattle’s Cal Raleigh) and only one has a higher OPS (Willson Contreras of the Cubs). None have driven in more runs.

“You could argue he is the most valuable position player we have,” Roberts said. “That just speaks to the delta in catchers’ offensive performance versus first baseman to their performance and Freddie, to Mookie and right fielders, to their performance. If you look at the delta from the catching position, to offensive performance, you could argue he’s the most valuable player on our team.”

PROUD PAPA

Tyler Anderson and his wife welcomed a son, Tucker, born on Saturday.

Dad is expected to throw a bullpen session at Camelback Ranch in Arizona Sunday then travel to Los Angeles on Monday and rejoin the Dodgers.



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