Justin Smoak has been Bad at Hitting Almost, but not, Everyday

Justin Smoak should never have experimented with those gumby bats - Jamie Squire

This is not analysis.

Justin Smoak has been a colossal disappointment for most of his Major League career. Much of that is because he has been objectively terrible at hitting. A small part of that disappointment though likely comes from the high points that we have seen from him. An even smaller part is that he apparently fells entire trees to make a bat, which just seems terribly wasteful, Justin.

It had gotten so bad that I have been honestly surprised that the Mariners do not seem committed to having him start the 2013 season in Tacoma. Their public support for him thus far could be fluff. We'll find out more in April, but it's still been more than I'd expected. That's mainly because in mind now he is, and always has been, really bad at hitting.

Then it struck me yesterday that it was Justin Smoak who began the 2011 season on a torrid pace. It presumably wasn't an alien doppelgänger that has since returned to his/her/its own time/dimension/planet. I have vivid emotional memories from that time about my level of excitement for having a true slugger on the team for the first time in years. And then Smoak just crapped all over the place.

I initially tried to rationalize the performance by blaming his various injuries and idiotic refusal to take time off to heal. I held some hope for him to start 2012 but when he continued to be dreadful I quickly stopped investing any energy in caring about Smoak's performance. I know he came on strong late in the season, but that didn't connect in any way. By then I had totally checked out on him and almost checked out on the team entirely.

Obviously nobody is as good as their best or as bad as their worst, but I was curious so I went back through the last two seasons Smoak had as a Mariner and split it into three periods.

Timeframe PA AVG OBP SLG nB% K% rbbip GB% OF% IF% Pwr+ Swg Cont
Pre-May7 11 109 .315 .413 .576 14% 20% .364 43% 51% 7% +6% 40% 76%
Sucky Times 838 .200 .276 .327 9% 22% .237 44% 47% 10% -0% 44% 77%
Post-Sep12 12 77 .394 .481 .697 13% 13% .412 37% 53% 10% +9% 39% 79%

I don't intend any real analysis with this. The samples are small and purposefully cherry-picked. It's way too easy to read what you want into this.*

* The only part I am tempted to take note of is the proxy strength (Pwr+) measurement suggesting that Smoak was indeed hitting the ball a lot harder during his hot streaks. Which, duh, but maybe lends some support to an injury excuse.

It's no matter. The only purpose I had in mind with posting this is as a reminder that, wow, Justin Smoak was actually good for some extended stretches. I had forgotten.

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