WILL William Dills SMITH
Nickname:   N/A Position:   C
Home: N/A Team:   DODGERS
Height: 5' 11" Bats:   R
Weight: 195 Throws:   R
DOB: 3/28/1995 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 16  
Birth City: Louisville, KY
Draft: Dodgers #1 (comp) - 2016 - Out of Univ. of Louisville
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2016 CAL RANCHO CUCAMONGA   25 97 13 21 4 0 2 12 1 0 14 31 .330 .320 .216
2016 MWL GREAT LAKES   23 82 12 21 1 0 1 7 2 1 11 18 .371 .305 .256
2016 PIO OGDEN   7 28 4 9 0 0 1 5 0 0 4 1 .394 .429 .321
2017 TL TULSA   1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 .667 .000 .000
2017 CAL RANCHO CUCAMONGA   72 250 38 58 15 3 11 43 6 2 37 71 .355 .448 .232
2018 PCL OKLAHOMA CITY   25 87 9 12 4 0 1 6 1 0 7 37 .206 .218 .138
2018 TL TULSA   73 265 48 70 14 0 19 53 4 0 36 75 .358 .532 .264
2019 PCL OKLAHOMA CITY   62 224 48 60 11 2 20 54 1 0 40 49 .381 .603 .268
2019 NL DODGERS   54 170 30 43 9 0 15 42 2 0 18 52 .337 .571 .253
2020 NL DODGERS $212.00 37 114 23 33 9 0 8 25 0 0 20 22 .400 .579 .289
2021 NL DODGERS   130 414 71 107 19 2 25 76 3 0 58 101 .365 .495 .258
2022 NL DODGERS   4 16 2 3 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 .176 .313 .188
2023 NL DODGERS $5,250.00 126 464 80 121 21 2 19 76 3 0 63 89 .359 .438 .261
2024 NL DODGERS   43 160 26 49 13 0 5 32 0 1 19 30 .378 .481 .306
Personal
  • In 2013, Smith graduated from Kentucky Country Day High School in Louisville, then accepted a baseball scholarship to the Univ. of Louisville. He had posted a record of 7-1 with an 0.87 ERA; while also hitting .528 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI, 18 doubles, six triples and 24 stolen bases as a senior.

  • At Louisville, Will majored in business.

  • Smith enjoys golfing and being outdoors. Favorite movie is Remember the Titans. Favorite athlete is David Ortiz.

    Favorite cereal is Frosted Flakes. Favorite candy bar is Twix. Favorite food is rib eye steak.

    Favorite team is the Boston Red Sox.

    If he could eat dinner with three people he would choose Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

  • June 2016: The Dodgers chose Smith in the first round as compensation for the loss of Zack Greinke to the D'Backs. 

    Will was ranked as the 110th prospect in the draft, but the Dodgers didn't make him wait nearly that long to hear his name.  They selected the catcher from the University of Louisville with their second pick in the first round. He signed for $1,772,500, via scout Marty Lamb.

  • "He's a late bloomer," scouting director Billy Gasparino said of Smith. "He was a shortstop in high school who converted to catcher and it took him awhile to sync in at that level and position. He's a plus athlete with a plus arm, he receives and throws well and had a really good year this year. He's starting to hit with power; he always had a short swing but took it up another level with the power. He's from a great program and intangibles are off the chart."

    Gasparino said Smith's athleticism compares favorably to Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes. According to MLBPipeline.com: "Smith is one of the better all-around backstops available. He's a quality defender who has upped his offensive game as a junior.

    "Smith stands out most for his work behind the plate. He has solid arm strength and such a quick transfer that he consistently records pop times of 1.9 seconds or less and opponents rarely try to run on him. He's a good receiver who has more athleticism and agility than most backstops.

    "After batting a combined .235 in his first two years at Louisville, Smith has been one of the Cardinals' most productive hitters this spring. He has a compact righthanded swing that lends itself to contact and getting on base, if not much power. He has at least average speed and can steal a base on occasion."  (Gurnick - MLB.com - 6/9/16)

  • In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Smith as the 16th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization. He was moved up to #9 in the winter before 2018 spring camps opened.

  • In 2018, Smith hit 19 homers in 73 Double-A games, but he was exposed at Triple-A (.425 OPS in 87 ABs) and continued to strike out at a high rate (112 Ks in 98 games).

  • May 27, 2019: The Dodgers promoted young catcher Will Smith to the big leagues for the first time. Smith, ranked as the club’s No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

  • 2019 Season: Smith stepped in and took over a difficult role the Dodgers have been trying to find a good fit for, as 29-year-old once Dodgers primary catcher Austin Barnes had a rough season, and 36-year-old Russell Martin had his share of injuries.

    Over 54 games, the Fresh Prince (as Smith is often called) had 43 hits, with 24 of them going for extra bases. Nine of those were double and 15 were home runs. Overall, Smith finished the regular season with a .253 batting average while driving in 42 runs and scoring 30. He took on a role with very large shoes to fill and he not only met the high expectations of being the Dodgers starting catcher but surpassed them, showing fans he has a very bright future ahead of him. (Lauren Jennings - Think Blue - Oct. 23, 2019)

  • The collage of Kentucky Derby winners plastered along the diner walls of Wagner’s Pharmacy leaves no uncertainty of its location across the street from Churchill Downs. To get to the restaurant in the back, one must walk past the sign advertising horse parking for 5 cents and the schedule of University of Louisville and University of Kentucky basketball games, through the general store and gift shop and beyond the photographs of famous figures who’ve graced the Louisville staple through the years.

    There, in a quiet corner across from the counter, Dodger catcher Will Smith is enjoying a patty melt on an offseason afternoon at his favorite breakfast and lunch spot, explaining how to properly say the name of the place where he grew up. “Loo-iss-ville” is way off. “Loo-ee-ville” might even draw a look or two.

    “Pronounce ‘Louisville’ like you have a mouthful of food in,” he explains between bites. “Loo-uh-vull.”

    Smith’s parents are transplants to the city, but it’s always been home for Smith, who starred primarily as a pitcher and infielder at Kentucky Country Day School before excelling as a catcher at the University of Louisville en-route to becoming a first-round pick and rookie Major League sensation, hitting a Dodger record 10 home runs in his first 25 games in 2019.

    The even-tempered 24-year-old embraced the spotlight while letting his play emphatically announce his introduction to the Majors. Two of his first three home runs were walk-offs. He collected 19 RBIs in his first 14 career games, setting another Dodger record in the process and earning the primary starting job behind the plate. “The Fresh Prince” began to garner more and more attention, particularly in Los Angeles.

    Back home, though, despite the numerous accolades, the 5-foot-10 phenom can still roam largely under the radar. Aside from one Wagner’s customer ­– a man Smith recognizes from his Louisville baseball days — and a hostess who adds Smith’s photo to the wall of fame as he leaves the restaurant, he goes undetected. It’s exactly how he likes it.

    “It’s a much slower, quieter pace,” says Smith, who recently bought a house in Louisville with his fiancée. “I can relax here. I don’t feel much pressure to kind of live up to the hype or anything. It’s home.”

  • At a time when Will Smith’s age was counted in months rather than years, one memory in particular stands out to his father, Mark Smith. A toy with a spring that hung on the doorway let Will’s parents know they might have an athlete on their hands.

    “He could bounce,” Mark recalls. “He’s 9, 10, 11 months old, and he would get that thing going and go three feet off the ground bouncing up and off the walls just cackling and giggling. That’s one of my really fond memories.” The other was Will always had a ball or a stick in his hand.

    When he wasn’t inside shooting on his Fisher-Price basketball hoop, the majority of Will’s time as a child was spent outside, where he could hit with a plastic bat in the backyard. Across the street in the Douglass Hills neighborhood where Will grew up was a school where he’d throw baseballs or hit golf balls with his father, who eventually ended up his St. Matthews Little League coach.

    “My dad’s work ethic really rubbed off on me, just from anything — seeing how he did yardwork, to seeing how he went about his job,” Will says. “It was always do the job correctly and clean up after it, whatever it is, and do it the best you can.”

    While Will’s father coached him in baseball, he wasn’t the type to force his son to stick to one sport. Mark believed strongly in “letting kids be kids.” That concept applied off the field, too. If Will had an interest, his parents encouraged him to explore it. He tried guitar lessons. He would go through phases of playing video games non-stop for a couple weeks at a time. But the constants were always sports and the outdoors, and the area he grew up provided access to plenty of both.

    He liked to ride bikes, play basketball and swim at the community pool. He ran cross country in the fifth grade, because that was the only sport his school offered at that age. Two hours away was the Red River Gorge, where Will and his family would go hiking every year. On spring breaks, the Smiths traveled to Will’s grandfather’s house in Florida, where they’d take boats out on the water. Will observed diligently and figured out how to drive the boats, an activity he still enjoys in the offseason on his way to fishing or hunting.

    “He was a very determined little baby and boy, independent always,” says Will’s mother, Julie Smith. “He always had to do things himself. He was quiet but always listening and very observant. He didn’t talk a lot, but when he would say something, it had a lot of impact and a lot of thoughtfulness behind what he would say.”

    Those qualities would serve him well in the classroom, where Julie says Will was among the more reserved but harder-working students. She would know, having worked at Kentucky Country Day — Will’s kindergarten through 12th-grade private school — for more than 30 years. The long-time first-grade teacher is now a school counselor. She always took pride in hearing about how hard Will studied — be it in the film room as a Major Leaguer or in the classroom as a middle schooler.

    “One story I think about is when he was in eighth grade, he decided he wanted to get into the advanced math program for the high school, so he did all these extra classes,” Julie says. “He was just determined to do that. It was not something that we were driving him to do. It was sort of like he came home and announced he was going to make it, and he did make it. So he set those kind of goals, always, for himself.”

    That determination carried into sports. By the age of 5, Mark says Will had already played his first nine holes of golf. Baseball came naturally, too. As a second or third grader, he’d already impressed his eventual coach at a festival.

    “Kids would turn in a ticket and get to throw a few balls and see how hard they could throw,” recalls Joe Maione, Will’s high school coach at Kentucky Country Day. “At that age, I joked around, he could’ve been the third- or fourth-hardest throwing pitcher on our varsity team when he was that young.”  (Rowan Kavner - Jan. 31, 2020)

    COACH MAIONE

  • It wasn’t much longer before Will was pitching for Maione’s high school team as a middle schooler, but he could do much more than pitch. He had his dad to thank for that, at least in part. During Little League, Will says his father was more concerned with his players understanding the fundamentals of the game than wins or losses. He would rotate players around constantly.

    “Literally, we’d play one position one inning, the next we’d play somewhere else,” Will says. “He made sure everyone got at least an inning in the infield and an inning in the outfield if he could.”

    Will’s team won state when he was a 10-year-old. He made the All-Star team three straight years from the ages of 10–12, which is around the time he says he started to fall in love with the game. He was in love with golf, too, but baseball came more naturally, and he felt he could go further with it.

    Maione saw the same thing. Once Will reached middle school, he started going to the batting cages with older kids at the school. By the seventh grade, he was playing third base and pitching in relief for the varsity high school team.

    “You’re going against a guy with a beard, a senior in high school,” Will says. “It’s like, ‘I’ve got to bring it now. I’ve got to grow up.’”

    Despite Will making an instant impact with his bat, he also endured some early growing pains. One game in particular stands out to both Will and his father.

    “We were playing a team in Danville, and he was in seventh grade. They had a pretty good baseball program,” Mark begins. “We had used I think our best pitcher, he was a senior, and Will had to pitch the second game. He was just barely 13 years old, and he wasn’t hiding the ball well and they could see what he was throwing. I still tease him today, there was a kid who hit a ball that’s still flying. He stuck it out, never showed any emotion. Just kept throwing. He finally came out of the game and all he did was kind of flutter his lips. It wasn’t ducking his head, anything. It was like ‘OK, go on to the next one, see what happens.’”

    Will would go on to hit over .400 one year later. As his high school career continued, he’d end up the No. 5 player in the state, according to Prep Baseball Report. But that Danville performance remains cemented in his mind, as if it still motivates him.

    “They absolutely destroyed me,” Will says. “I was tipping my pitches badly, and they knew it, and I didn’t know that. So they took advantage of it. After the game, their coach came up and told our coach, ‘Hey, this kid’s going to be pretty good, but this is what we had on him, fix it.’ I learned quick to not do that.”  (Rowan Kavner - Jan. 31, 2020) 

  • When Will thinks about the people who made the biggest impact on his career at an early age, the first person he thinks of outside of his immediate family is Maione, whose willingness to challenge him early forced him to grow. He says that experience as a seventh grader made him comfortable in uncomfortable situations against players who were older and more experienced — a trait that would translate when he blasted 15 home runs in his first Major League season.

    Maione, who has since moved from Kentucky to North Carolina to Virginia for athletic director opportunities, never hesitated to give Will that opportunity. He calls him the hardest-working kid he’s ever coached. The statistics of the two-time all-state player, who went on to hit .528 with 11 home runs with a 0.87 ERA on the mound as a senior, backed that up.

    “I’ve done this for a long time, and you coach different types of kids all the time, but he was one of those kids who was special that don’t come around very often,” Maione says. “There’s a lot of talent, very humble, and the work ethic that matched.”

    Will Smith hit .528 as a senior playing at Kentucky Country Day School. Those close to Will say he’s always possessed his calm demeanor on the field, but it’s juxtaposed with his disdain for defeat. His father says he hates to lose more than he likes to win.

    He does well hiding it, but there are signs Mark knows to look for. In high school, Will’s father would stay in the booth with a radar gun to make sure Will’s arm wasn’t losing speed as the game continued.

    “I could tell sometimes when he would get upset at an umpire, because he’d throw the ball harder,” Mark says. “He’d get a little irked for making a bad call or something like that.”

    One occasion in particular stands out.

    “He got irked at an umpire in the last inning, called a crazy balk on him, and he’d been throwing the ball in the mid-80s the whole game,” Will’s father says. “His last three pitches were 91–92–91.”

    With an arm like that, it was clear college baseball was in Will’s future. It just wasn’t clear where. He initially wanted to get away and experience life away from home. Playing for the University of South Florida became a possibility. But the University of Louisville came calling. Will knew how strong the program was and how much the school meant to Louisville’s residents, particularly in a state without any pro sports. The Cardinal coaches saw his potential, even if his success came at a small school — Will says he graduated with 80 students — and primarily at positions other than the one Louisville’s coaches envisioned.

    “He was the star shortstop, the star pitcher, the star catcher,” says Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “But you can only play one position at a time.”

    Will enjoyed the challenge of hitting, and he was open to transitioning full-time to catching, which is where Louisville’s staff thought Will could best utilize his athleticism. The coaches say they envisioned their version of a Buster Posey. Years later, while Will was setting rookie records in 2019, Dodger manager Dave Roberts would make the same comparison.

    Will still calls his college choice the toughest of his life. But after seeing the Louisville facilities and meeting the coaches, he felt it was a perfect fit.

    “Luckily,” Will says, “it was a good decision.”  (Rowan Kavner - Jan. 31, 2020) 

  • As Will scans the University of Louisville’s snow-covered baseball stadium on a chilly November day, a number of memories return — the January scrimmages, where the snow made it hard to see and the piercing cold made it harder to swing; the home run his sophomore season in the Super Regionals against Cal State-Fullerton; the crescendo of the crowd’s cheers as the games picked up in importance on the road to Omaha.

    Will didn’t need to wait long to get to the College World Series. He fondly recalls the dogpile on his home field at Jim Patterson Stadium after beating Kennesaw State in the NCAA Super Regional his freshman year. Even then, with multiple upperclassmen ahead of him on the depth chart, he found a way on the field in 39 games.

    “There was no entitlement,” McDonnell says. “He never acted like it was supposed to be given to him. As a freshman, he blended in with two senior catchers. He knew his place but competed, worked hard and it was just fun to see him get better each year.”

    Like that seventh-grade year at Kentucky Country Day, it would take some grooming to reach his stride. Will went homerless his freshman year while hitting .221 at the plate. Then Louisville hired Eric Snider as its hitting coach from the University of Illinois.

    “I think a lot of the reason why I got drafted and the reason why I’m a pretty good hitter now is because of him and the work he put in with me,” Will says.  (Rowan Kavner - Jan. 31, 2020) 

  • What Snider remembers first from seeing Will is his natural throwing action behind the plate. But what he remembers most is his willingness to learn. In the batter’s box, Snider noticed Will tended to land too hard on his front side with his front knee bent. The two went to the cage and firmed up his front leg.

    “For me, that was the point where he started to take off offensively,” Snider recalls.

    From his freshman to sophomore year, Will raised his batting average 21 points while hitting the first two homers of his college career. Then came the colossal leap offensively in an All-ACC junior season that saw him hit .382 with seven home runs. His draft stock soared.

    “I guess it really hit about halfway through his junior year when they were thinking 10th, 11th round,” Will’s father recalls. “All of a sudden, every Major League team has interviewed him, and it’s like, ‘Oh, wow, he might actually do this.’ Then the last two weeks were just nuts, as far as before the draft.”

    On draft day in 2016, the school brought its players in for a pizza party. Louisville outfielder Corey Ray went fifth overall to the Brewers. Louisville pitcher Zack Burdi went 26th overall to the White Sox. With the 32nd overall pick, the Dodgers selected Smith.

    “We always thought Will had a very high ceiling in the game,” says University of Louisville director of baseball operations Brian Mundorf. “Can I sit here and say I thought he would be a first-round draft pick? Maybe not. But if you watched Will Smith at practice every day and watched his growth as a player and watched him get better every day over his three years, we knew the sky was the limit. We knew that Will had tons of ability, and his desire to be great I think is what separated him.”

    Pro players are encouraged to return to the University of Louisville as often as they’d like. The gym, the weight room, the batting cages and even the indoor football field are available. Will continues to take advantage of the space, along with about five to 10 other pro players each offseason. A fingerprint gets him access anywhere he wants. The main cages are known as “the hack shack.” Will spent hundreds of hours there in college — a total he’s still adding to today.

    “There were countless times I came in at 10 o’clock at night and just hit on my own on the machine,” he says. “Now in pro ball, I spend probably 10 hours a week in here in the offseason hitting — an hour and a half at a time, six days a week.”

    As Will’s family, friends and coaches stay up into the late hours of the night watching him play on the opposite coast, the same calm, quiet, steadfast resolve and confidence Will’s parents noticed from a young age — the traits Maione saw at Kentucky Country Day and McDonnell, Mundorf and Snider witnessed at the University of Louisville — remain, pushing Will forward.

    “He’s the same guy he was at 18 years old,” Mundorf says. “He knows that he hasn’t made it yet, and I think because of how humble he is and how driven he is, that success will continue for Will Smith.” (Rowan Kavner - Jan. 31, 2020) 

    SMITH VS. SMITH

  • 2020 NLCS: Something happened here, and it was beautiful. A 31-year-old man, born William Michael Smith, in Newnan, Georgia, stood on top of a 10-inch mound of dirt, 60 feet, 6 inches from a 25-year-old man named William Dills Smith, of Louisville, Kentucky. The Smith atop the pitcher's mound throws a baseball with his left hand. The Smith who stood in the batter's box swings a baseball bat from the right side.

    In the annals of MLB postseason history, with thousands of games played, never before had two men with the same name faced one another. Will Smith, the pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, against Will Smith, the catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And it's important to note that they're both Will. Because Will Smith vs. William Smith, or Will Smith vs. Will Smyth, or Wil Smith vs. Will Smith—those simply wouldn't be the same. They'd be cute. They just wouldn't be history.

    These are grown men, remember, men who choose to bear the name Will Smith, which happens to be shared by the person who, during their childhood, was maybe the biggest movie star in the world. Each could have remained William Smith, who's an accountant or a banker or a truck driver or cashier. Both instead chose Will Smith, who punches aliens in the face.

    That the NLCS pitted them at perhaps its most vital moment made the confrontation that much more delicious. The Braves entered Game 5 of the series with a 3-1 advantage over the Dodgers. One Atlanta win would secure its first World Series appearance since 1999. The Braves led the Dodgers 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning when the dream of the tiniest niche imaginable turned into a meme for the masses.

    The at-bat was magnificent, which shouldn't have been a surprise. However plain their names, the two Will Smiths who play baseball are very good. The pitcher had signed a $40 million free-agent contract with the Braves over the winter. The catcher earlier this postseason became one of nine players ever to record five hits in a playoff game.

    Old Will threw a first-pitch curveball and bent it into the top of the zone for strike one. He benefited from plate umpire Dan Iassogna's friendly strike zone to get a called strike with a fastball on the inside corner. During at-bats in which he went down 0-2 this season, Young Will hit only .174.

    He took two fastballs, at 94 and 95 mph, high and inside to even the count. Then the count went full. The runners on first and second would be moving with two outs. As soon as the low-and-inside 94.5 mph fastball arrived, it exited precisely 10 mph faster. The ball soared into the night at Globe Life Field.

    The Dodgers won 7-3 and kept their postseason alive.  (Jeff Passan - ESPN - Oct 2020)

  • 2020 Season: The Dodgers have a catcher who hits well enough to be a designated hitter. That’s the big takeaway from Will Smith’s second season, which was superb.

    Everything about 2020 was odd, thanks to a season cut short by COVID-19, so we don’t have a lot to go on here. But when Smith played this year, all 37 games, he was magnificent. Smith hit .289/.401/.579 with eight home runs in 137 plate appearances, his 163 wRC+ leading the team and ranking 11th among all major league hitters with at least 100 PA, first among catchers.

    Will Smith plate discipline.

    Year   BB rate    K rate    Chase rate:

    2019   9.2%    26.5%   22.6% 

    2020  14.6%   16.1%    15.3%     (Source: Baseball Savant)

  • The power is not new, as Smith hit 15 homers in 54 games as a rookie in 2019. The key to Smith’s rise at the plate in 2020 was his improved plate discipline. His walk rate skyrocketed, his strikeout rate plummeted, and his chase rate was the fourth-lowest in baseball. He had nearly as many walks (20) as strikeouts (22). That will play.

    The only thing that really slowed Smith down this season was neck inflammation that sidelined him for 10 games in mid-August.

    Smith’s last defensive play of the season was dropping a throw while trying to make a swipe tag at home plate in the wild ending of Game 4 of the World Series. But just as that crushing loss didn’t stop the Dodgers from winning a championship, that play shouldn’t deter Smith from catching regularly going forward.

    He started 17 of the 18 postseason games for the Dodgers, his bat so important to the lineup that he was the DH for seven games in the postseason when he didn’t catch. Smith hit .203/.267/.348 in the playoffs and World Series, but this wasn’t a case of another Dodgers catcher going ice cold in October, as was the case for the previous half-decade.

    If it seemed like Smith hit an inordinate number of rockets that turned into outs, it’s because he did. During the postseason, Smith hit 26 balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher, the Baseball Savant definition of a hard-hit ball. That matched Justin Turner, who hit .250/.333/.471, and on the team trailed only the 31 hard-hit balls by Corey Seager (.328/.425/.746) and Mookie Betts (.296/.378/.493).

    Of those 26 hard-hit balls by Smith, a whopping 15 resulted in outs.  (Eric Stephen@ericstephen - Nov 4, 2020)

  • Dec 21, 2020:  When Smith hit a home run off Braves reliever Will Smith in Game 5 of the NLCS, it surely seemed like the singularity was upon us. There was a glitch in the matrix and now only players named Will Smith would populate Major League rosters.

    While we wait for this dystopian future to come to pass, the Dodgers catcher got to meet that other Will Smith—the Fresh Prince himself—to quiz kids in a game of "Which Will Smith?"

     You'll need Snapchat to view the whole thing, where we can only hope the Braves' Smith is a surprise secret guest. Otherwise, I'm sure his invitation just got lost in the mail.

    While getting to meet the famous actor and musician is surely a career highlight for the young Dodger, it probably isn't his favorite thing to happen this offseason. That's because Smith got married over the weekend: (M Clair - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2020)

  • April 9, 2021: Since Smith made his MLB debut in 2019, the speakers at Chavez Ravine have played the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Most assumed the catcher was embracing his Hollywood namesake, but it was later learned that Russell Martin was behind the ploy.

    When Smith came to bat, Drake’s “Nice for What” played. “It was just time to get away from it,” he said of the change from the famed show. “It’s what I went with.”

  • 2021 Season: Smith hit a solid .258/.365/.495 in 130 games this past season, posting career highs in doubles (19), triples (two), home runs (25) and RBI (76). He continued swinging a hot bat in the postseason, going 11-for-44 with two doubles, three home runs and four RBI across three series.

    On the defensive side, Smith threw out 25% of would-be base-stealers and committed just six errors in 1,004.2 innings behind the plate. He also briefly saw time at first base and third base, which is a testament to the Dodgers’ emphasis on versatility.  (Matt Borelli - Dec. 27, 2021)

  • Aug. 29, 2022: Smith committed to play for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

  • Oct. 15, 2022: About six hours before the Dodgers took on the Padres in their ill-fated NLDS Game 4, L.A. catcher Will Smith had one of the best moments of his life: he became a dad.

    Congratulations to Cara and Will Smith on the birth of their beautiful baby girl who was born this morning. Both mom and baby are doing well.

    According to the FS1 broadcast during Game 4, Cara Smith went into labor in the middle of the night and Will drove to L.A. to be with her, with their baby daughter being born around 10:40 a.m. The Dodgers then flew Smith via helicopter back to San Diego so he could be there for the game that evening.

    Will and Cara Smith met as students at the University of Louisville in 2015. They got engaged in December 2019 and married about a year later.  (Jeff Snider)

  •  2022 Season: Smith has consistently been a positive presence in the Dodgers' lineup. In 2022, he slashed .260/.343/.465 with 24 home runs and 87 RBI. Crazy enough, that was a down year at the plate for him compared to his 2021 season, as his OPS dropped 53 points from .860 to .807.

    Over the last two seasons, Smith ranks second in home runs, second in RBI, third in hits, first in OPS, and second in fWAR among all catchers. He's undoubtedly a top-two catcher in the league and yet doesn't have a single ASG appearance to his name.

    The two catchers on the National League roster last season were Willson Contreras and Travis d'Arnaud. It's not like Smith struggled to start the 2022 season, as he was actually better in the first half. Smith had 14 home runs, 47 RBI and a .842 OPS at the All-Star break last season. (Jason Reed - Feb. 20, 2023)

  •  Will Smith is one of the best catchers in baseball and he's been a part of a World Series-winning roster. He has spent his entire career with the Dodgers, one of the most successful and winningest teams in modern history.

    However, it's not just on the field that Smith wins. He also wins off it, as he married his wife Cara Martinelli (now Cara Martinelli Smith) in December 2020. Just a little while after Smith captured the World Series ring, he captured another ring - one that is arguably better.

    On October 16, 2022, the star catcher also welcomed a new daughter to the world with his wife, who was 27 at the time.

     The couple first met at the University of Lousville, where Smith was a top catcher, in 2015. They began dating shortly after and got engaged in 2019. The engagement wasn't long as they were married by the end of the following year.

    Cara Martinelli Smith was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She has a degree in teaching from Louisville. She taught first grade for three years.

     Before meeting and eventually marrying Will Smith, the teacher didn't care much for or know anything about baseball. She has since become an avid fan.  (Zachary Roberts - Mar 05, 2023)

  • July 2023: Smith was chosen to represent the Dodgers as a reserve at the All-Star Game. 

  • Each year in the MLB brings additional benefits and, according to players currently making the climb, appreciation. That’s why most players easily remember how many Opening Day rosters they made so far. 

    Like Smith: four.

    When you come up for the first time, Smith said, some of your teammates are guys “you saw play when you were in high school and maybe even middle school. When you see them day in and day out, you understand why they’ve been around so long.” (Nesbitt - Aug 31, 2023 - The Athletic)

  • 2023 Season: Stats: .261/.359/.438, 19 HR, 76 RBI, 63 BB, 121 wRC+, 4.1 rWAR, 4.4 fWAR

    Will made his first All-Star team this year, and the honor was well deserved. He started 75% of games. a career high after years of backing up Austin Barnes at catcher, with stellar results.

    “What he does offensively, as well as doing what we need to do with the pitching staff and taking pride in that — he makes it look easy,” said Clayton Kershaw, who has almost exclusively pitched to Barnes in the past.

    That’s no small feat. Up to his All-Star appearance, Smith led all National League catchers in runs scored (44); was second in RBI (46), on-base percentage, wRC+, and fWAR (3.0); and ranked third in homers.

    The season wasn’t without its offensive issues, though. Smith developed some bad hitting habits while recovering from a broken rib that happened when he was hit by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jake Woodford on April 30. As a result, his average in the final two-thirds of the season dipped to around .241 after starting off strong at .313. Smith’s OBP and slugging percentage fell more dramatically, from .415/.531 in his first 54 games to .312/.384 in the last third.

    Smith also sustained a concussion after taking two foul balls off of his mask in early April against the Giants, which left him on the injured list for 13 games. The Dodgers seemed to miss him terribly: They were 8-7 with Smith on the injured list, then went 19-5 with him in the lineup.

    Defensively, Smith continues to set himself apart when it comes to running the game.

    “If you look at the last few years, he’s been more proactive as far as mound visits and speaking up in meetings,” said manager Dave Roberts in July, per the Los Angeles Times. "That takes time. But when he does say something, it’s heard. It lands with players. And it’s refreshing to have a guy that is clearly about the team, and the pitchers. There’s no self-promotion. That’s something I really respect.”

    Dodgers staff have also recognized Smith for his masterful pitch calling and understanding of game plans.

    Like Barnes, Smith struggled to stop steals this season—though Dodgers pitchers may have had something to do with that. His .996 fielding percentage shows a high overall level of play behind the plate.

    In addition to his All-Star honors, Smith was nominated for the All-MLB team, was a top vote-getter for a Silver Slugger award at the catcher position and represented Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. (Samantha Carleton - Nov 21, 2023)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • Jan 13, 2023: Smith avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal with the Dodgers worth $5.2 million.

  • Nov 2, 2023: Smith elected free agency.

  • Jan 11, 2024: Smith avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal with the Dodgers worth $8.5 million.

  • March 27, 2024: The Dodgers agreed to a 10-year, $140 million contract extension with catcher Will Smith. The deal includes a $30 million signing bonus. (Smith will receive $15 million of the signing bonus in November 2024, and the other $15 million in January 2025.) And the pact will also include a portion of deferred compensation, $5 million per season, which will be paid out once a year from 2034-2043.
Batting
  • Smith has impressive bat-to-ball skills with super-excellent knowledge of the strike zone.

    Will was a contact hitter in college, but the Dodgers reworked his swing to generate more loft. An adjustment to get ready a tick earlier revealed above-average power in 2018.

  • Will hits to all fields.

  • May 2019 scouting report: “Los Angeles has had Smith add loft to his righthanded swing, and he has shown more power than he did at Louisville while seeing his strikeout rate soar from 10 percent in college to 24 percent in his first three years as a pro. He probably won't produce much in the way of batting average, but he could provide 15-20 homers per season along with a healthy amount of walks. He also has solid speed and can steal an occasional base,” per the MLB Pipeline scouting report.

    Smith, ranked as the club’s No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, caught fire offensively, raising his average to .290 with eight homers, 28 RBIs and a .954 OPS.

  • August 1, 2019: Will hit a grand slam.  Smith has 6 homers and 19 RBI, a franchise record for the first 14 games of a career.

  • Smith swings only at strikes. So he walks a lot.

  • April 25, 2022: Smith launched his second homerun of the season against the Diamondbacks. But that home run carried more weight than just being an insurance run. It tied him with former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza as the fastest NL catcher to reach 50 home runs. 

Fielding
  • Will was a shortstop who moved to catcher while at the University of Louisville. But he is a very athletic guy who really impresses with his receiving and blocking skills.

    Smith’s best asset is his athleticism. He has quick feet, soft hands and an above-average arm he can get to from multiple angles, making him a plus defensive catcher and above-average defender at third base.

  • Will has a big-league-average arm, and it plays up because of his quick exchange. Will consistently posts pop times of sub-1.95 seconds on throws to second base because of a lightning-quick transfer. He further draws high praise for his leadership behind the plate.

    In 2016, Will threw out 42 percent of those who tried to steal.

  • Smith as an outstanding defender, displaying above-average agility side-to-side. He comfortably catches elite stuff and knows how to call a game.

    Will gets plaudits for his leadership on the field.

  • Will exhibits the athleticism, arm strength and overall profile to handle both positions, with the potential to be a plus defensive catcher and an average third baseman. (Spring, 2019)

  • May 2019: Here’s his MLB Pipeline scouting report: “Smith has outstanding athleticism for a catcher, and it translates into quality defense behind the plate. His average to solid arm strength plays as plus because he has quick footwork. With his soft hands and agility, he receives and frames well, and he also has shown he's a capable third baseman and passable second baseman.

  • “Will’s been around our guys the last few years. Don’t let that baby face, clean-shaven fool you. This guy’s as tough as they come. Has a great way about him,” said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts.

Running
  • Will has impressive speed for a catcher.
Career Injury Report
  • July 13–end of 2017 season: Smith was on the DL after suffering a broken right hand.

  • May 8-June 3, 2018: Will was on the DL with a deep bone bruise in his thumb.

  • June 30-July 6, 2019: Will was on the IL.

  • Aug 15-23, 2020: Will was on the IL with neck inflammation. 

    Smith was involved in a whiplash-type plate collision with Fernando Tatis Jr. in San Diego on Aug. 3. He started five more games, but his neck locked up again. 

  • April 13-28, 2023: Will was on the IL with concussion protocol.

  • March 13, 2024: Smith was scratched from the Dodgers' game against the Mariners with lower back tightness, but manager Dave Roberts said he’s not concerned about it and taking him out was just precautionary. Smith tweaked his lower back in the weight room, and soreness crept in later.

    “He feels like he’s in a good spot baseball-wise,” Roberts said. “So it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to have him catch today.”