Rangers call on Smoak

With Chris Davis struggling to do much of anything at the plate, the Rangers turned to their cache of prospects and called up one of the game’s very best, first baseman Justin Smoak. Based on how they handled Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon (during his second call-up), they promoted Smoak with the intention of playing him, not to use him as a spot starter/pinch hitter.

CHONE projects a meager .240/.340/.363 batting line with eight homers for the former South Carolina standout, but I think that’s selling him short. During his 14-game stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City (an obviously small sample), Smoak hit .326/.500/.587 with a gaudy 6/16 K/BB ratio, which is as many walks as Davis has drawn in the last ten months. His career minor league line sits at .295/.413/.465. Smoak doesn’t offer a tremendous amount of power, but he’s going to play half his games in a park that has inflated homeruns nearly 20% over the last three years. Double digit bombs is certainly in the realm of possibility, plus he’ll score plenty of runs because he’s an on-base monster.

The one concern is that even though he’s a switch hitter, Smoak does have a rather pronounced platoon split – .324/.443/.505 vs. RHP, .215/.304/.331 vs. LHP – in his pro career according to minorleaguesplits.com. There’s plenty of quality lefthanders in the AL West, so he might not be an every day starter for your team, at least initially.

Ike Davis‘ promotion to the big leagues was much more ballyhooed because of his market, but Smoak is a superior fantasy option in essentially every single way. He’s owned in just 2% of Yahoo! leagues, so run out and grab him if you need some help at first or could use a nice trade chip.

As for (Chris) Davis, expect his playing time to take a pretty significant hit, and don’t be surprised to see him wind back up in the minors for a little wake-up call. The 1B/3B eligibility is nice, but he fantasy value is as low as can be. Swinging at one out of every three pitches out of the zone is no way to live life.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

13 Responses to “Rangers call on Smoak”

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  1. I’ve been listening to hype about Smoak for two years now, with all the comparisons to Texiera. I’ve never seen the kid play, so all I know is the numbers. Yes his BB/K rate is fantastic but what I don’t see is the power. What’s the deal? Has he dealt with injuries or is he just not the power hitter that analysts thought he’d be?

    I ask because Davis’ power fell off of the map last season, since he suffered from a strained oblique (I believe that’s what it was). Everyone around Davis claims that his power has returned as he’s recovered from the injury and his small sample of work in AAA back that up.

    Interesting development. Thanks for the breaking news.

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    • oPlaiD says:

      Justin Smoak also had an oblique injury last year, so if you believe that hampered Ike Davis, then you should have little concern regarding Smoak’s power.

      This season he’s been absolutely dominant in AAA so far. Granted it’s a small sample size, but he’s walked a TON more than he’s K’d while showing home run power and everything else you’d expect from a great hitter. I’m excited to see what he can do in the majors.

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      • oPlaiD says:

        And, um, I was not sure what Davis you were referring to with the oblique thing so please don’t kill me since it probably wasn’t Ike, considering his power returned last year!

        Would be nice to have an edit feature somewhere on here…

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      • Yes you guessed the right Davis indeed. I should have been clearer, since the obvious comparison would be to the guy he’s replacing.

        Interesting about the oblique strain. I’m looking forward to seeing what Smoak is all about. As JR said, the power really hasn’t come yet this season. With his size and discipline, I wouldn’t be surprised if it does show in a big way however.

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  2. JREwing says:

    Smoak did have the oblique injury, but even this year he’s hit 2 HRs in 50 ABs? The power hasn’t come. Yet. He’s 23 years old still. Dude wasn’t alive when Crocodile Dundee came out. He’s a big guy with a lot of room to add weight still. The power may or may not come this year, but IMO it’ll very likely come eventually. Instead of Teixeira, I’d compare him to a switch-hitting Morneau.

    I hope Davis moves back to 3B, because I think he’s done in Texas as a 1B. He’s got just as much lateral movement as Young at 3B and has a better arm. I’d like to see his bat develop a little more in the minors and then see him pushing Young by 2011 or 2012.

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  3. The A Team says:

    Unfortunately in my only money league, Smoak was picked up about a week ago and later dropped. He’s on waivers until tomorrow morning but I have little chance to get him with #6 priority. That’s probably OK since Morneau, Pena, and Lee clog my 1b, CI, and UTIL positions, but it would be nice to be able to flip one of them for a need.

    I also won’t be heartbroken if I miss out on him. As you guys have noted, there’s some warts to consider when projecting his impact on 2010.

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  4. skillings24 says:

    In a 12 team, six keeper (based on previous year’s avg. draft position) 5×5 OBP league format would Justin Smoak be a smart pickup?

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    • The A Team says:

      it depends on who else is available and such. He might be worth a grab with the hopes that he can develop into a good keeper that will only cost your last pick. If it’s a shallow roster format, he’s probably pretty marginal for this season until we see him put up some numbers. If you have room to play wait and see then go for it. If you don’t like what he’s doing, you can start the game over with Carlos Santana, Desmond Jennings, or some other stud prospect who’s near the bigs.

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  5. Jinger says:

    Who has a bigger impact? Ike or Smoak?

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  6. Chris says:

    Chris Davis was optioned… so his playing time will be 0 in the majors now.

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  7. OzzieGuillen says:

    A 1B-eligible player with limited power for the position and no major league track record. No thanks. Maybe he turns into a poor man’s Votto for this season, but he’s more likely a Casey Kotchman-type right now…at least from the numbers I have seen.

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