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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