For the most part I have not enjoyed Justin Smoak's second full year in the majors. He's been hovering around Mendoza for most of the season, and the never-ending Smoak puns have also been tiresome. At some point, you've heard them all.
But with the silly season of September winding down, Smoak is in the discussion for a different reason: he's all of a sudden hitting the seams off the baseball. Is it too late to invite him to your championship party?
Smoak's turnaround started in the middle of the Toronto series two weeks ago, and it's turned into a 17-for-36 binge over 10 games, with four homers and four doubles. He's scored eight, driven in seven. Walks and strikeouts are even, six of each. And this doesn't include the additional homer he clocked in Wednesday's match (still in progress; the game, that is, not the homer).
The three Smoak homers in the Los Angeles series have all come off decent pitchers: Zack Greinke, Scott Downs and C.J. Wilson (no wise guy comments). He's also homered off Tanner Schneppers and Matt Harrison earlier in the month. Smoak doesn't turn 26 until December, and he was touted as a likely star back when the Rangers drafted him 11th overall in 2008. Pacific post-hype sleeper, anyone?
While I've been watching every Seattle Seahawks snap over the last few weeks, as if I own stock in the team, I can't say I've had the Mariners on high alert. I don't have any game-drawn scouting notes of my own to offer you on Smoak (though for what it's worth, the Seattle first basemen credits a simple batting tip from his dad). Obviously hot streaks can start at any time and for any reason, and they can disappear at any time. As much as we'd like to think there's a tangible reason why someone starts producing, it isn't always something we can identify or properly attribute. And heck, to a large degree variance and randomness control the games we chase around.
All I know is this: Smoak's locked in at the moment and feeling good at the plate, and I'd like to kick the tires, see where it goes. He's still unowned freight in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Anyone want to take a shot for the final week?
Smoak and the Mariners are at Oakland this weekend, but that might not be a bad thing: his OPS is 210 points higher away from Safeco this year. The Angels come to Seattle next week for the final series of the year; while the pitcher-friendly park obviously hurts the Smoak story, at least he's proven that this Los Angeles staff doesn't bother him much. His best AL stats this year have come against the Halos.
It's your move, gamer. Discuss your Smoak plans, and share your best or worst Smoak pun, in the comments. And while we have you here, also enjoy the 29-minute (estimated) Andy Behrens theremin solo, below.