Did the Astros fix Will Smith?

Updated: Oct 10

When the Will Smith trade occurred I questioned it too. THEN, I did the work to create the article "Fixing Will Smith Why The Astros Made This Trade."


I am completing the ALDS Guide and rather than write a detailed argument that Will Smith SHOULD be on the ALDS roster there, I am going to put that here by simply asking:


Did the Astros fix Will Smith?


In short, Yes. At least so far. In truth the sample size is not big enough to be definitive. Let's ignore that and project based on what they have done with Will Smith since acquiring him.


As a reminder, when the Astros acquired Will Smith, he had an ERA of 4.38 and a FIP of 5.22. At a high level since he has been with the Astros, Smith has had a 3.27 ERA and a FIP of 2.66.


How did they do it?


I suggested that the Astros should have Smith pitch more sliders and less curveballs. They did that vs. LHH and it helped. They PARTIALLY did that vs. RHH and smith is pitching like a completely different pitcher vs. RHH.


vs. LHH

This table shows how Houston has adjusted Will Smith's pitch usage vs. LHH.

Will Smith went from throwing 60% sliders to LHH to almost 70%. The Astros basically stopped having Smith throw curveballs. For the first time since 2019, SMith actually threw some changeups to both LHH and RHH.


These adjustments led Smith to improve his xwOBA from 0.275 with the Braves to 0.263 with the Astros. This is not a huge change but the adjustment was not a huge change here and Smith was good before vs. LHH for the Braves.


vs. RHH

This table shows how Houston has adjusted Will Smith's pitch usage vs. LHH.

  • The Astros have had Will Smith throw that Changeup 5.6% of the time. It's ONLY 9 pitches but it seems to be effective.

  • Smith has cut the curveball usage from 15.7% to 6.8%. As far as I am concerned he could cut more.

  • Now the shocking thing is that the Astros have actually had Smith throw MORE 4-seam fastballs (43.7% to 54,0) and it is working (xwOBA from 0.345 to 0.289). At some point we can figure out WHY it is working but kudos to the team on this.

  • The reduction of sliders (40.6% to 33.5%) is also working phenomenally (xwOBA from 0.260 to 0.102).

These adjustments led Smith to improve his xwOBA from a below average 0.329 with the Braves to a very good 0.264 with the Astros. Yes, for the Astros Smith has been almost as good vs. RHH and he has been vs. LHH. This is a huge change albeit on limited data.


So overall, yes, Smith has been fixed. Smith has had a better ERA as an Astro than Garcia, Neris, Maton, and Urquidy this year. Smith has had a better FIP as an Astro than Stanek, Valdez, Javier, McCullers, Garcia, Maton, and Urquidy this year. If you think those guys should be on the ALDS roster then you have to agree that Will Smith should be too.


He NEEDS to be on the ALDS roster. Read the full ALDS matchup guide here.


All stats per Fangraphs.com and baseballsavant.com.


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