AL East Positional Rankings: Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis Whiffs in 2017

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Greg Bird
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Greg Bird /
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Justin Smoak
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 19: Justin Smoak /

1. Toronto Blue Jays

First basemen: Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales

The Toronto Blue Jays only had two players start more than 10 games at first base. One of those was a guy who I figured wouldn’t see much time at first base in Kendrys Morales (in all fairness, he didn’t, just 12 starts) and the other was Justin Smoak.

I figured Steve Pearce might battle for and potentially win the first base job, and it wasn’t that Pearce had a lousy year, but Smoak had an extraordinary one.

Smoak had by far the best year of his career, hitting .270/.355/.529 with 38 home runs, 29 doubles, 90 runs batted in, 85 runs scored and his first All-Star Game appearance.

Smoak’s career numbers were .232/.317/.416.

So, yes he finally put it all together in 2017. Smoak had a 3.1 offensive WAR, which nearly equals his previous seven seasons. Remarkable. His defensive WAR was -0.7, but I don’t think anyone expected Smoak to be strong defensively.

His range numbers did end up slightly above league average, and his total fielding runs above average was, well…average, at 0. However, he only had two errors the entire season, good for a .998 fielding percentage. That’s good.

Smoak led the AL in putouts, was sixth in the league in games played, fifth in home runs, ninth in extra-base hits. It indeed was a banner year for Smoak.

Morales filled in when Smoak needed a break, and let’s not pretend he was in for his defense. However, he also hit well below his career averages, and it may be a sign the slugger’s age is catching up to him. But, we will discuss Morales more at DH, since he saw the primary at-bats there.

Next: AL East Positional Rankings 2017: First Base Review

Overall, both of these players will return in 2018, and the Blue Jays will be looking for Smoak to prove that 2017 was not a fluke. I can’t say I will be a full believer, but his 2017 season was quite impressive.