Justin Smoak is putting up All-Star numbers for the Toronto Blue Jays this season. The former first baseman for the Seattle Mariners has clearly turned a corner in his approach at the plate, and he is treating Blue Jays fans to a lot of home runs this season. Playing against those very Mariners at Safeco Field on Saturday night (June 10), Smoak hit his 18th homer of the season during the ninth inning. It provided an insurance run for the team as the Blue Jays beat the Mariners 4-2.
After going two-for-four at the plate, Justin Smoak improved his batting average to 0.296 on the season. Smoak also has 18 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 36 runs scored. At 30-years-old, Smoak may be putting together the best season of his eight-year baseball career. His previous season highs are 20 home runs, 59 RBIs, and 53 runs scored. It’s entirely possible that Smoak could pass all those totals by the time the All-Star break rolls around in July.
To put an even more positive spin on the season Smoak is having, last year with the Toronto Blue Jays, he finished with a 0.217 batting average, 14 home runs, and 34 RBIs in 126 games played. He has already surpassed those numbers through just 61 games in the 2017 MLB season. This has helped the Blue Jays deal with the loss of Edwin Encarnacion on offense, as the All-Star designated hitter and first baseman signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Indians.
#BlueJays Justin Smoak…All-Star?
Judging by his numbers so far in 2017, he’s building a strong case pic.twitter.com/cotSl2xXTZ
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 7, 2017
Justin Smoak might just turn into a huge bargain for the Blue Jays, as he makes $4.125 million this season and next year, with a team option worth $6 million in place for the 2019 MLB season. The Blue Jays can buyout that season for just $250,000, and there is also a catch that the option could be worth more based on the total number of plate appearances he gets from 2017-18. Those exact numbers haven’t been revealed publicly.
Following the 2014 season, the Seattle Mariners waived Justin Smoak, allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to pick him up at almost no cost. Brought on to provide depth to the roster, Smoak has instead taken over as the starting first baseman and is now a permanent fixture in the lineup. Now many Mariners fans, the same ones who were pleading with the organization to move on from Smoak, want him back at first base again. Those home runs he hits at Safeco Field for the Blue Jays are what Mariners fans wanted to see for years.
At the rate he is going this season, Smoak is going to find himself a member of the American League All-Star team. He ranks among the best first basemen in many offensive categories and still has time to add more numbers before the mid-summer classic takes place. As for his numbers on the year, it’s certainly possible that the Blue Jays could be looking at around 40 home runs and more than 100 RBIs from him. At just over $4 million in salary this year, that would be a huge return on their investment.
— KREM 2 Sports (@KREM2Sports) June 11, 2017
The big question is whether Smoak is simply having a hot streak to open the season or if he has really figured everything out. A veteran of the game, it’s certainly possible that he has taken that step from being a role player to being a star on a nightly basis. Either way, Toronto Blue Jays fans are getting to enjoy a side of him that Seattle Mariners fans never got to see, and the Justin Smoak All-Star season will resume on Sunday (June 11) with one more game at Safeco Field.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]