Justin Smoak: 2012 Post-Hype Sleeper

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 10: Justin Smoak #17 of the Seattle Mariners strikes out to end the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field on September 10, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Royals defeated the Mariners 4-2. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

One of the questions that I was not able to answer in my Monday chat was who am I targeting as a post-hype sleeper in 2012. I didn't answer it as no name came to my brain at the moment I read the question, so , basically, I had nothing.

But I am here today to give you my 2012 post-hype sleeper. His name is Justin Smoak. Not a trendy or hyped name this offseason. He certainly isn't Brett Lawrie or Eric Hosmer, that's for sure. But, I think he could put up similar numbers to Hosmer this season.

You see, Smoak had a few things to deal with in 2011 that should not impact him in 2012. First, his father passed away. Every player handles things differently, so you can't bad-mouth a guy for not playing so well after a death in the family.

He also had to deal with a thumb injury that I was not aware of till I read this piece from Jeff Sullivan over at Lookout Landing, SB Nation's Seattle Mariners site. Here is an excerpt:

........we heard talk about thumb injuries. At the time, Smoak and the Mariners downplayed the significance, suggesting that Smoak was just caught in-between, or something. They all but said the injuries weren't a big deal. Now, in Stone's article, we have what I think is the first acknowledgment that the injuries were a big deal. As we figured. Some quotes:

"Yeah, it was bad," [Smoak] said. "I get jammed and my right thumb was messed up. Then I take a bad hop off the left thumb, and it was that big around (making a wide circle gesture) and I couldn't move it. It's hard to hit when you don't have your hands."

"I still felt I could play," [Smoak] said. "I knew I had one swing every time I went up to bat. I knew I wasn't going to swing three or four times. One swing is all I had."

Sullivan goes on to detail how Smoak hit before the injury and after the injury:

What's important is figuring out what he is as a player. I put this in the last post about Smoak, but the numbers below say so much. Assuming an accurate injury window:

2011, Healthy: .270/.360/.470 (367 plate appearances)
2011, Injured: .130/.213/.176 (122 plate appearances)

Quite a big difference, even if it was just 122 plate appearances. All told, that slump after the injury resulted in a 2011 triple slash line of .234-.323-.396. Quite a drop from .270-.360-.470. All told, he hit 15 HRs, 24 doubles, 38 runs scored and 55 RBI in 427 at bats. He struck out around 21% of the time, but also had a healthy 11% walk rate, and his triple slash line was definitely impacted by his extremely low 13.8% line drive rate.

Assuming good health and a rise in his line drive rate, along with a league average BABIP of .300 or so, I expect Smoak to break the 20 home run mark and drive in around 80 runs with a .280 BA in 2012. Let's go with a 23 HR, 83 RBI and .280 BA season for Smoak in 2012. You should be able to get him very late in mixed league drafts and after the 10th round in AL-Only league drafts.

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