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Thoughts on the Chris Davis|FRONTS|Justin Smoak Changeup

Now I've never been a Chris Davis fan and I've consistently warned against drafting him, but even I did not expect the Rangers to say "dayenu" quite this quickly, but quite frankly it was time. He was striking out over a third of the time and flailing at pitches outside of the strike zone over a third of the time too. Unless Justin Smoak, his replacement, falls on his face, it is possible Davis may not resurface again in a significant role for the Rangers. In fact, be prepared for the possibility that he could be starting a new career as Triple-A roster filler unless he goes about restructuring his approach and improving pitch recognition.

Justin Smoak is what Davis is not – disciplined. Last season at three minor league stops he walked no less than 14|PERCENT| of the time. His strikeout rates increased with each promotion but still stayed in the low-twenties over 237 at-bats in Triple-A. This year he has walked twice as often as he has struck out (yes teeny sample size), making contact 84|PERCENT| of the time while walking 24|PERCENT| of the time and hitting .300. So there is good reason to believe Smoak will make good on his pedigree as someone who will hit for average. My one remaining question is "to what degree will he hit for power". Last season was a disappointment in that respect with ground balls over 40|PERCENT| of the time and close to 50|PERCENT| at Triple-A while hitting fewer than 30|PERCENT| fly-balls. He has shown more power in the early goings this year and keep in mind that he missed significant time due to a ribcage injury which surely played a significant part in his ability to drive the ball. Provided the Rangers do not react badly to small sample sizes or get frustrated when he goes through some rookie adjustment periods, Smoak could easily be here to stay.