Will Smith, the dynamic catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, made his first All-Star appearance this season, impressing fans and critics alike with a remarkable .279 batting average and an outstanding .889 OPS in the first half of the 2023 MLB season.However, the second half of the season brought unexpected challenges for Smith, as he faced a significant dip in performance, losing over 150 points off his OPS, which plummeted to a mere .720. This sudden slump left the 28-year-old athlete keenly aware of his struggles, and he knew he needed to put in the hard work to regain his form.
One of the primary issues affecting Smith’s performance was the drag in his backswing, which was causing him to lose his timing and fail to connect with pitches effectively. In the initial half of the season, Smith displayed remarkable control, boasting 44 walks and just 39 strikeouts, a rare feat that sets him apart from many of his peers in the modern baseball era.
However, as the second half of the season unfolded, Smith’s batting woes became evident. After 43 games, he managed only 12 walks while striking out 37 times. His inability to stay on top of pitches due to timing issues became a pressing concern.
“Just getting a little long in the backswing, which is making me leak,” Smith said. “Just something that’s kind of been there. It’s always creeped back at times. It had been there. Just trying to get it to go away again.”
Yet, in a recent turnaround, Smith displayed glimpses of his former self. Over the last seven games, he went 7 for 21 at the plate, with only 5 strikeouts and 2 walks, showing signs of improvement. His OPS during this period also rebounded, reaching an impressive .915.
As the playoffs loom on the horizon, Smith faces the challenge of getting his swing back into prime condition. With the potential absence of key players like J.D. Martinez and Max Muncy due to injuries, Smith is likely to maintain his position in the third spot of the lineup.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, currently boasting an 84-53 record, are well on their way to securing a playoff berth. With a focus on retooling and rediscovering what made Smith an All-Star in the first place, the Dodgers’ star catcher aims to contribute to his team’s quest for a second World Series championship in just four years. Smith’s journey through adversity and resurgence will be one to watch as the 2023 MLB season heads towards its thrilling conclusion.
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