Justin Smoak turns 33 today.
Justin is a man without a job at the moment.
Justin was the Rangers first round pick in the 2008 draft, number 11 overall. He made it to the majors in 2010 and played 70 games for the Rangers before being traded to the Mariners in July, along with Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.
His rookie season was a bust, hitting .218/.307/.371 with 13 home runs. He would play the next four seasons for the Mariners, never living up to his first round potential, hitting .226/.308/.384 with 66 home runs in 496 games.
Justin came to the Jays selected off waivers in late October of 2014. We were less than thrilled. The move was soon forgotten because we traded for Marco Estrada and then Josh Donaldson in the next month.
We would decline his option and non-tender Smoak and then sign him as a free agent, for 1-year and $1 million.
He was not great in 2015, hitting .226/.299/.470 with 18 home runs, splitting time with Chris Colabello at first base.
In 2016 Colabello was suspended for using PEDs, which, thankfully, ended the continuous debate about who should play first. Not that Smoak earned the job by his play, hitting just .217/.314/.391 with 14 home runs.
Despite the number, Alex decided to sign him to a 2-year contract extension for $8.25 million with an added option year at $6 million. At the time none of us had any thought that we might pick up that option.
Finally, in 2017, Justin showed us why he was a first round draft pick and why he was given so may chances to prove himself. He hit .270/.355/.529 with 38 home runs, good for a 3.4 bWAR, and he was selected to the AL All-Star team.
2018 was a slight step back. He hit .22/.350/.457 with 25 home runs and a 2.3 bWAR. This past season was another step back, hitting .208/.342/.406 with 22 home runs.
In total he played 684 games over 5 seasons with the Jays, hitting .237/.338/.459 with 117 home runs and a 7.1 bWAR. He is 43rd on our all-time list for bWAR, 14th on our list for home runs (16 more would put him 10th on our list) and 31st for games played.
He has the MLB record for plate appearances before hitting his first triple (2317) (now has 2 career).
One of my favorite moments was Justin’s two home run game on Canada Day in 2015, which I was lucky enough to be at. He’s had at least one two-home run game in each season.
This past season was a tough one for him, but i was glad to get to see more of his sense of humor and hear more about the kind of teammate he is.
Hopefully he’ll find a contract somewhere and have some more big games.
Happy Birthday Justin. I hope it is a good one.
Here is one I forgot about: