A Brief Note about Seth Smith

The Padres didn’t need Seth Smith, and traded him to the Mariners. The Mariners are getting themselves a nice little hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. Jeff will likely have more on Brandon Maurer, who was the Padres’ return for Smith, in the next couple of days, but until then I wanted to type up a little something about Eli Manning’s backup quarterback (it’s true).

Eno reminded us about players with a very defined skill set on Monday, and that is definitely how you would describe Smith. He’s not a very adept defender. He isn’t a complete sieve, but he’s certainly not around for his defense. He’s not the worst baserunner, but he wouldn’t be the first runner you picked to steal a base. Probably not the second either. And he isn’t much against left-handed pitching. Well, he was last year in an incredibly small sample, but given his track record that probably won’t persist.

What Smith does do well is hit right-handed pitching. Since his debut in 2007, there have been 169 batters to compile 2,000 or more plate appearances against right-handed pitchers. Smith is tied for 36th in wRC+. Pretty good, right? Especially for a part-time player. And for a team looking to add a corner bench or platoon bat this offseason, it would have been hard for the Mariners to do better. Let’s look at the players on this list, their current status, and their stats vs. righties since 2007 to drive home the point:

# Name Status PA wRC+
1 Joey Votto Not available 2800 160
2 Prince Fielder Maybe available 3433 157
3 David Ortiz Not available 3112 156
4 Miguel Cabrera Not available 4040 156
5 Shin-Soo Choo Maybe available 2745 151
6 Lance Berkman Retired 2568 148
7 Albert Pujols Possibly kryptonite 3847 146
8 Adrian Gonzalez Not available 3653 146
9 Alex Rodriguez Possibly kryptonite 2561 144
10 Joe Mauer Not available 2805 144
11 Matt Holliday Not available 3880 143
12 Andre Ethier Definitely available 3235 141
13 Josh Hamilton Definitely available 2920 138
14 Giancarlo Stanton Not available 2017 138
15 Justin Morneau Maybe available 2899 137
16 Robinson Cano Already on team 3524 137
17 Ryan Howard Definitely kryptonite 3026 136
18 Andrew McCutchen Not available 2980 136
19 Jose Bautista Not available 3332 135
20 Ryan Braun Not available 3519 134
21 Hanley Ramirez Not available 3421 133
22 Carlos Gonzalez Maybe available 2091 132
23 Pablo Sandoval Not available 2570 132
24 Curtis Granderson Not available 3437 131
25 Carlos Pena Retired 2804 131
26 Adam Dunn Retired 3545 130
27 Chase Utley Definitely available 2981 129
28 Adam Lind Not available 2780 128
29 Matt Joyce Not available 2175 128
30 Kevin Youkilis Retired 2480 126
31 Carlos Beltran Possibly kryptonite 3036 126
32 Mark Teixeira Possibly kryptonite 3036 125
33 Chris Davis Not available 2022 125
34 Bobby Abreu Retired? 2707 124
35 Evan Longoria Not available 2974 124
36 Seth Smith   2348 123
37 Josh Willingham Retired 2905 123
38 Neil Walker Not available 2167 123

So, there are a few players who are likely available with the same skill set, but most of them — Fielder, Choo, Ethier, Hamilton, Howard, Gonzalez, Beltran, and Teixeira — are either very expensive, come with injury concerns, or both.

There are a couple of standouts here — Morneau and Utley most notably — which is nice company to be in. When you add in positional concerns though, Smith sort of stands alone. Utley could probably play the outfield, but I doubt you’d get him to waive his no-trade clause to do so. Perhaps they could have landed Joyce if they had acted sooner, and Joyce is probably Smith’s best comp. But at this moment, given the objective of trying to find an available player with a great track record of mashing against righties and who doesn’t cost a fortune, it would have been hard for the Mariners to do better than Seth Smith.

Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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7 years ago

I’d argue Votto along with his $210M left on his contract are available.