Will Smith
201205025-0812a Will Smith.jpg
Smith with the Kansas City Royals in 2012
Atlanta Braves – No. 51
Pitcher
Born: (1989-07-10) July 10, 1989 (age 32)
Newnan, Georgia
Bats: Right
Throws: Left
MLB debut
May 23, 2012, for the Kansas City Royals
MLB statistics
(through April 29, 2022)
Win–loss record31–31
Earned run average3.54
Strikeouts606
Saves87
Teams
Career highlights and awards

William Michael Smith (born July 10, 1989) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball at Gulf Coast Community College. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Smith in the seventh round of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. He previously played for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Francisco Giants. He made his MLB debut in 2012.

Amateur career

Smith attended Northgate High School in Newnan, Georgia, where he played for the school's baseball team as a pitcher.[1] He enrolled at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida, where he continued his baseball career. After his freshman year at Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Smith in the seventh round, with the 229th overall selection, of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.[2]

Professional career

Minor leagues

Making his professional debut with the Orem Owlz of the Rookie-level Pioneer League, Smith recorded 76 strikeouts while walking only six batters. He pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Class A Midwest League in 2009, and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Class A-Advanced California League in 2010.[3] On July 23, 2010, the Angels traded Smith along with Sean O'Sullivan to the Kansas City Royals for Alberto Callaspo.[4]

Pitching for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Class AA Texas League in 2011, Smith and Kelvin Herrera combined to pitch a no-hitter on July 19, with Smith pitching the first seven innings.[5] Smith began the 2012 season with the Omaha Storm Chasers of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.[6]

Kansas City Royals

The Royals promoted Smith to the majors for the first time on May 22, 2012.[6] By the end of the 2012 season, Smith had made 16 starts, his record was 6–9 with a 5.32 ERA. During the 2013 season, the Royals transitioned Smith into a relief pitcher. He spent the majority of the season at Omaha. He was called up multiple times to the Royals bullpen while also making a spot start.

Milwaukee Brewers

Smith was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Norichika Aoki on December 5, 2013.[7] Smith had a 1–3 win–loss record and a 3.70 earned run average (ERA) in 2014.[8]

On May 21, 2015, he was ejected from a game vs the Atlanta Braves for having a foreign substance on his right arm.[9] He was suspended for eight games, pending his appeal and his suspension was subsequently reduced to six games.[10] Smith had a 7–2 win–loss record and a 2.70 ERA in 2015.[11]

During spring training in 2016, Smith tore the lateral collateral ligament in his knee.[12] He returned to the Brewers on June 2.[13] By the end of the month of July, Smith had appeared in 27 games for Milwaukee, serving as the set-up man. He had 1–3 win–loss record and a 3.68 earned run average (ERA) in those 27 appearances.

San Francisco Giants

On August 1, 2016, the Brewers traded Smith to the San Francisco Giants for Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac. He made 26 appearances with the Giants, finishing with a 1–1 win–loss record and a 2.95 earned run average (ERA).[14][15]

On March 20, 2017, Smith was diagnosed with possible UCL damage in his left elbow, but no structural damage. He returned to California to seek second opinions with doctors, who petitioned that Smith would require surgery.[16] On March 24, it was reported that Smith elected to have Tommy John surgery on his elbow, ending his 2017 season with the Giants.[17]

In 2018, he returned to action in mid-season and was used as a setup man and the closer. He appeared in 54 games, finishing with a 2–3 win–loss record and a 2.55 earned run average (ERA) to go along with 14 saves (14/18 in save opportunities).

In 2019, Smith was named the Giants' closer. He was selected to the All Star Game in 2019 after he converted 23 of 23 save opportunities in the first half of the season. For the season, he was 6-0 with 34 saves (3rd in the NL) and a 2.76 ERA, and 96 strikeouts in 65.1 innings.[18]

Atlanta Braves

On November 14, 2019, Smith signed a three-year contract with the Atlanta Braves worth $39 million, with a club option for a fourth year.[19]

On July 4, 2020, it was announced that Smith had tested positive for COVID-19.[20] He returned to baseball-related activities on July 26,[21] and was placed on the Braves' active roster on August 6.[22]

In 2020, he was 2–2 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 relief appearances covering 16 innings.[18] On October 16, during Game 5 of the 2020 National League Championship Series (NLCS) Smith became the first MLB pitcher to face a position player of the same name in the postseason, Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith. The faceoff ended with Smith surrendering a three-run home run to the Dodgers' Smith.[23]

In 2021, he was 3–7 with 37 saves and a 3.44 ERA in 71 relief appearances covering 68 innings.[18] Smith was the closing pitcher in Game 6 of the 2021 World Series, which Atlanta won to clinch the title. He notably did not give up an earned run in the entire postseason.

Personal life

Smith and his wife, Taylor, married in November 2020 in Atlanta.[24][25]

References

  1. ^ "Former Northgate pitcher Smith 2-1 in rookie league - The Newnan Times-Herald". Times-herald.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  2. ^ Milner, Brad (June 6, 2008). "Angels snag Smith: Gulf Coast freshman ready to begin professional baseball career". Archived from the original on February 28, 2009.
  3. ^ "Did the Angels give up too much in Will Smith?". The Orange County Register. July 23, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "Angels get Callaspo for two pitchers". ESPN.com. July 23, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  5. ^ "Second straight no-hitter in Kansas City Royals' farm system - ESPN". Espn.go.com. July 20, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Royals select contract of left-handed pitcher Will Smith from Omaha". MLB.com (Press release). May 22, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  7. ^ Dutton, Bob. "Royals get outfielder Aoki from Brewers for Will Smith". Kansas City Star. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Haudricourt, Tom. "Will Smith fond of relief role with Brewers". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  9. ^ "Brewers' Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm". USA TODAY. May 21, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  10. ^ "Will Smith suspension reduced six games". MLB.com. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  11. ^ Haudricourt, Tom. "Will Smith, expected to be Brewers co-closer, has sore knee examined". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  12. ^ "Brewers reliever Will Smith has torn knee ligament". Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  13. ^ "Reliever Will Smith on top of game since return from knee injury". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  14. ^ "Giants pay steep price, acquire reliever Will Smith from Brewers". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Haft, Chris. "Giants add left-hander Smith in deal with Brewers". MLB.com. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Perkins, Owen. "Tommy John surgery recommended for Smith". MLB. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Townsend, Mark. "Spring Training 2017: Giants lose key reliever Will Smith to Tommy John surgery". Yahoo. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c "Will Smith Stats". Baseball-Reference.com.
  19. ^ Bowman, Mark (November 14, 2019). "Braves sign All-Star LHP Smith to 3-year pact". MLB.com. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  20. ^ "Freeman among four Braves to test positive". ESPN.com. July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Bowman, Mark (July 26, 2020). "Will Smith cleared to end COVID quarantine". MLB.com. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  22. ^ "Will Smith activated as Braves get to 28". MLB.com. August 6, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  23. ^ DiComo, Anthony (October 17, 2020). "I am legend: Will Smith homers off Will Smith". MLB.com. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  24. ^ "Taylor & Will: Love Strikes Again".
  25. ^ Burns, Gabriel. "Will Smith's Braves homecoming arrived at the perfect time". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.