This is starting to get serious. All year, I’ve been able to lambast this offense as a whole, but I’ve been able to keep my ire away from Justin Smoak. I’ve always included him among the Youth Movement, even though we like to conveniently overlook him because he was here for part of the season last year and started this season with the first base job. He’s by no means new and fresh and exciting (at least, when you compare him to Ackley and Pineda), but he’s still young, he’s still raw, and he’s still got plenty of room to grow.
For a while there, it looked like we had a future All Star on our hands. With the pressure off, buried in the 5-hole behind guys like Jack Cust who could actually get on base, Justin Smoak had a line of .284/.393/.527/.920. I’m telling you, we were all THRILLED at our embarrassment of riches! He would go on to peak in early May (.315/.413/.576/.989) before a long, slow decline.
And, for the life of me, I don’t know why! In May, you could look at the sharp increase in strikeouts and say he’s being overly aggressive, but then in June his strikeouts fell to a season-low 16 (while throughout his walks have maintained pretty much the same). And, if you want to see something weird, look at his power numbers from month-to-month: he’s averaging the same 6 doubles & 4 homers every month. Pretty much, Justin Smoak is a picture of consistency.
And yet, his average has continued to go down, down, down; he’s been a .219 hitter since the start of May. It doesn’t look like his approach has changed. He seems to be the same hitter he was in April. Either, we’re looking at a serious case of bad luck, or there’s something wrong with his mechanics. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers. I’m just sitting here like everyone else asking the same question, “What the fuck is wrong with Justin Smoak?” What I do know is that his batting average is down to .235, and that simply cannot be. I bitch enough about the hitting on this team, I don’t want to have to worry about our Youth Movement blowing up in our faces. Justin Smoak, you need to figure out whatever it is you need to figure out in the second half. We NEED you, Smoaker!