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April 23, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Smoak Monster Cometh

by Marc Normandin

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Given Chris Davis' second half in 2009 and the progress he made following his initial demotion, you would have thought the Rangers had given him a longer leash for 2010. This is not the case, though, as he has now been optioned to the minors with Justin Smoak called up to replace him at first. The question is whether or not he can perform well enough in 2010 to merit your attention before he picks up a plate appearance.

Smoak was hitting .300/.470/.540 over his first 50 at-bats in the minors this year--it's a small sample, for sure, but it's better looking than the .244/.366/.360 showing he had for Oklahoma last year in 232 PA. Sometimes it's easier to believe a stretch like this for a young player is them "getting" it, whereas with a veteran in the majors we would roll our eyes and include them in a Don't Believe The Hype piece if it was merited. The Rangers think Smoak has been having good at-bats at Triple-A, at-bats that have resulted in some quality offensive numbers. He's picked up 16 walks and whiffed just eight times, which is the same number of extra-base hits he has. These aren't enough of a sample to determine if his strikeout and walk rates are going to look like that, but given his popularity as a prospect, we don't have time to worry about that sort of thing if you want him.

Due to Smoak's struggles at Triple-A last year, PECOTA wasn't too enthused about his success in the majors this year. His weighted-mean is .263/.356/.424, but his 90th percentile of .287/.394/.477 is not just a quality showing but something he should easily be capable of if his recent performance at Triple-A is for real, and not just due to a 50 AB sample. You have to remember that PECOTA also isn't aware that his timing was messed up in Triple-A due to a strained oblique--chances are good, given his Double-A performance, that sans strained oblique he would continued to hit exceptionally at Oklahoma last year. With that in mind, I wouldn't mind considering his 90th percentile to be more like his 70th—he could eek out a SLG close to .500 if things go well this year—given his comparables—Baseball Prospectus 2010 stated that he's something akin to a switch-hitting Justin Morneau. There's no reason you shouldn't snag him off of the waiver wire or FAAB if he's still available.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony F... (04/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly P... (04/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (04/23)
Next Article >>
Premium Article On the Beat: Friday Up... (04/23)

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