- Smith was discovered by Angels scout Tom Kotchman
In 2009, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Will as the 12th-best prospect in the Angels' farm system
MLB.com: What's the one thing that Brewers fans might not know about you that they should know?
Smith: They might not know I'm a big Michael Jackson fan. I was listening to Michael Jackson before you called. I
like a little MJ now and then; I couldn't pick a favorite song but I could tell you I was listening to the "Number Ones" album.
Will Smith’s given name is a good fit because he has the “will” to win, the “will” to work hard, and the “will” to make two people who shaped his Major League career proud.
“I like to be outside a lot, so to be able to go play golf, you spend most of the day outside. I’m a competitive person, so it’s nice to get out there and compete against something that’s not baseball. I enjoy hunting and fishing too,” Smith said.
Smith actually beat teammate Kyle Lohse in a golf match, and Lohse is a top flight player. Of course, Will had a little help from fellow pitcher Tyler Thornburg and Brewers Director of New Media Caitlyn Moyer. The threesome outlasted Lohse on the 17th hole.
Like most world-class competitors, Smith can’t get enough of the me vs. you. “You could say that. There’s just something about—there’s always got to be something on the line to play for, whether it be bragging rights. We just got done playing cards inside. It’s something as simple as that that keeps that clubhouse fun, keeps guys on each other. It’s fun to be competitive—whether playing cards or dealing pitches on the mound. What kinda motivates me and pushes me is just the man-to-man competition. It’s my best stuff vs. your best stuff, you know? Let’s go get it, that type of attitude,” Smith said.
In 2014, Smith went and got it—especially before the All-Star break. The 25-year-old Georgia native went one-and-three with a .370 ERA in a career-high 78 relief appearances. Smith came to the Brewers in the trade with Kansas City for outfielder Nori Aoki in December 2013.
“I had an absolute blast. The city was awesome. The fans were awesome. We started off so hot. The team gelled so well together. The older guys opened up their arms and accepted me. It was awesome. I had a great time my first year and looking forward to the second one,” Smith said.
Smith says, “Look, I’ll do anything. I’ll even take batting practice in the cage.” The main thing for the big lefthander is that he just wants that baseball as often as Ron Roenicke needs to use him—no complaints and no criticism.
“It was just kind of a joke with Ron saying ‘I don’t think you overused me’ because last year, a lot of guys asked me ‘were you tired? Were you tired? Were you tired?’ I wasn’t tired. I just wasn’t very good".
Smith saying he wants the baseball even more this season has to have a great ring to it. Speaking of rings, the one Smith wears around his neck belonged to his late grandfather.
“Him and my dad were the two guys—my dad would come home from work after working at Delta all day and I was like ‘Dad, can we play catch?’ And then my granddaddy, he wouldn’t sit in the bleachers. He would sit right there by the dugout and he’d sit there the whole game and he absolutely loved it,” Smith said.
Smith says he senses his grandfather’s presence when he’s pitching. “Obviously he’s up there in a better place and he’s got the best seats in the world right now,” Smith said. (April 1, 2015, by Tom Pipines )
May 21, 2015: Smith got tossed from a game for having a foreign substance on his arm during a game he was pitching. He had rosin and sunscreen on his right forearm.
The next day, MLB suspended Will for eight games.
He was only the fourth pitcher in 10 years suspended for the offence. Smith joined a select club this spring—pitchers ejected for using a foreign substance on the mound.
September 28, 2018: Will Smith's steady ascent toward winning the Giants' 2018 Willie Mac Award actually began one year earlier. He spent 2017 recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, which he underwent March 30, 2017.
The dignity and diligence that Smith maintained during his recovery and ultimate return to San Francisco's bullpen gained the respect of teammates and coaches, who cast the most significant votes for the award that represents the franchise's highest honor The award is named for Willie McCovey, the Hall of Fame first baseman whose determination and competitive spirit inspired teammates throughout his 22 Major League seasons (1959-80) -- most of which were spent with the Giants "I love those guys to death," the left-hander said Smith replaced Hunter Strickland as San Francisco's closer in late June and entered Friday night's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers with 14 saves in 18 opportunities "When he went about his rehab last year, he was always around and always positive," Giants left-hander Ty Blach said
The dignity and diligence that Smith maintained during his recovery and ultimate return to San Francisco's bullpen gained the respect of teammates and coaches, who cast the most significant votes for the award that represents the franchise's highest honor.
The award is named for Willie McCovey, the Hall of Fame first baseman whose determination and competitive spirit inspired teammates throughout his 22 Major League seasons (1959-80) -- most of which were spent with the Giants.Smith thanked his teammates in brief remarks during a pregame ceremony.
"I love those guys to death," the left-hander said.After the Giants' 3-1 loss to the Dodgers, Smith added, "I don't know if [winning the award] has sunk in yet -- to be in the same breath as Willie McCovey and the past winners."
Smith replaced Hunter Strickland as San Francisco's closer in late June and entered Friday night's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers with 14 saves in 18 opportunities. Statistically, Smith has experienced broad success. His 1.90 ERA ranked second among National League relievers, trailing only Milwaukee's Jeremy Jeffress (1.33). His strikeout rate of 12.12 per nine innings and .179 opponents' batting average were seventh-best in the league in both categories.
"When he went about his rehab last year, he was always around and always positive," Giants left-hander Ty Blach said. "He worked his butt off to get back here. He wanted to come back and help the team, and that's what he did." (Chris Haft - MLB.com)
July 22, 2010: The Royals sent INF Alberto Callaspo to the Angels, acquiring Smith and RHP Sean O'Sullivan.
January 15, 2016: The Brewers and Smith avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for $1.475 million.
August 1, 2016: The Brewers sent LHP Will Smith to the Giants for C Andrew Susac and RHP Phil Bickford.
Jan 13, 2017: Smith and the Giants avoided arbitration, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal for $2.5 million.