Smoak's New Thome-esque Swing, 2
Some guys push a swing, and some pull a swing.


Q.  Why do you say, like Thome?

A.  It's a bludgeoning-style swing.  Here, look at this kludgy, muscle-heavy torque:


Or look at the start of this Smoak video and compare this Jim Thome swing.


Q.  What would this Junior-to-Thome swing change produce, in theory?  In this specific case?

A.  What it has produced, for sure, is to put Smoak on top of the ball more.  Here, grok these September batted ball splits.  But we're not going by numbers.  You can see at a glance that his two-handed King Arthur Broadsword swing has him chopping the top half of the ball.

And yet the angle of the bat is up, and he finishes low, so we have the dreaded Topspin Swing now that gives LD's and HR's while still giving a surprisingly high groundball yield.  ... We don't say it's an Ibanez-level Topspin Swing, but it's a couple of steps over into that range.

If Smoak himself "automatically" swings slightly higher on the ball than he used to with one hand, well then of course.  He targets for the center now and is a skosh higher.  Something like that.

In any case, he seems to have Saundersed his own swing.  It's less blossomy now and his ki is more concise, and more in line with the incoming energy.


Q.  Two days ago you wrote that he was seeing the ball differently?

A.  For your convenience, here y'go amig-O.  He is definitely letting the ball come to him, and then he's letting the bat fly.  No scout alive would tell you different, we'll bet dollars to donuts.

That's why you've got to get the two together, scouting and sabe.  If it's pure numbers, you wouldn't be able to tell whether it was luck or not.  But standing there in the batter's box, Justin Smoak is a new man.


Q.  If he were still the same chump, and this were just a hot streak, how would you know?

A.  I can't think of any way to test my own read of the situation.  So have got to allow that I could easily be wrong. ... he got two or three slow curves again and was helpless against them again.  Some guys are like that; it's not like a pitcher is going to throw him ten change curves in a single game.


Q.  If he read the ball like this and swung like this, what's an UP scenario for 2013?

A.  This is a baseball chat, not a job audition.  We'll save the pseudo-journalism for those who plan to become major league assistant GM's.  ;- ) ::big smile LrKrBoi29::

He was expected to be a 300/400/500 guy when he was coming up.  Dunno about that many walks, now that we've gotten to know him, but the old talent seems to have surfaced in September.  As we sit here, I'd allow a good 25% chance that he's a legit cleanup hitter in 2013.  

Wouldn't take very much more of this kind of shtick, against different types of pitching, for that % chance to rise sharply.  Smoak's chance to MOTO could be 40%, 50% by the end of next March.




...if he can actually hit for power? He has 84 points for his pretty dismal career so far. For me it's more what his BA looks like. .260/.360/.460? I'd take that. Thome is .275/.400/.555 for his career, and there's no way Smoak walks that much or has that much power, but if he can be a .800-.850 OPS bat then we can get some traction.
As long as the ball goes places when he makes contact (other than into a fielder's glove after a lazy pop fly) then Smoak will get interesting. A 1B more in the Greg Vaughn hitting stratosphere than Thome, but Vaughn's got plenty of value.
And it's achievable. Not a glorious height, but productive players are very welcome on this squad.


Going through it too quick.  .260/.360/SLG, or even better, should be his goal.
In April 2011, before the thumbs and the family issue, he started the year .285/.390/.525 with 14 walks vs 18 strikeouts in a month.  The BABIP was 'only' .321.  Six doubles and four homers that month.  He's got special talent - if I were him I'd be aiming at .285/.390/.525.

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