Top Milwaukee Brewers Of The 2010s: 49. LHP Will Smith
By David Gasper
We continue our ranking of the Top 50 Milwaukee Brewers of the 2010 decade and have reached the next spot on our list.
With a very successful decade in the books, complete with three different playoff appearances, the Milwaukee Brewers have had many contributions from a wide variety of players.
Our list began at No. 50 and continues here at No. 49 with Will Smith.
How We Ranked Them
We created an initial list of the top players by combining their Fangraphs Total WAR from each year they were on the Brewers and ranking them from highest to lowest.
However, this wasn’t going to be list of simply who had the highest WAR while they were here and that’s it. So we adjusted the list based on postseason contributions, overall quality of player, and general importance to the franchise.
Our list continues.
49. LHP Will Smith
Will Smith was a fan favorite during his time here in Milwaukee. His fun personality, dominance on the mound, and interactions with BFF Jeremy Jeffress made him one of the most likable players in this franchise during this decade.
Plus, who could ever forget his Mom Joke Monday video with Brett Phillips, embedded here for your pleasure.
If that video doesn’t make you smile or laugh, you don’t have a soul.
Back to Smith, not only was he funny, but he was a very good left-handed pitcher that had a very successful career in Milwaukee. Here’s his WAR numbers by year as a member of the Brewers.
2014: 0.5 WAR
Total WAR: 1.9
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Will Smith from the Kansas City Royals prior to the 2014 season in exchange for outfielder Norichika Aoki. The Brewers dealt from a position of strength, outfield, for a position of weakness, left handed pitching. It was a good deal that worked out well for both sides.
Smith posted a 3.70 ERA out of the bullpen in 2014, leading the league with 78 appearances, but covered only 65.2 IP. He allowed 4.2 BB/9, but there was a bright future ahead.
His best season as a Brewer came in 2015, when he finished with a 2.70 ERA in 76 appearances with a 12.9 K/9 working mostly in the back end of the bullpen. He didn’t earn any saves this year, working mostly as a setup man.
Will Smith was having another strong season in 2016, which would end up being his last as a Brewer. Him and Jeremy Jeffress were the big 1-2 punch in the back end of that bullpen with Smith working the 8th inning and Jeffress the 9th. Tyler Thornburg was the third big arm of that group and took over as the closer once Smith and Jeffress were traded at the deadline.
The Milwaukee Brewers sent Smith to San Francisco in exchange for their top pitching prospect, Phil Bickford, and a catching prospect, Andrew Susac. It looked like a steal for the Brewers at the time, but Susac could never get his bat together and stay healthy, and Bickford had suspensions and personal issues, missing a lot of time. But he’s now working his way back as a reliever and is still in the Brewers minor league system.
Overall, the Brewers lost that trade, but given the rebuild stage they were in, keeping a dominant bullpen arm like him wasn’t necessary.
There was a period of about five minutes on July 31st this year when fans thought the Brewers would acquire Smith back from the Giants, but it was Drew Pomeranz instead, which still worked out okay.
Smith was a trusted bullpen arm and a fan favorite for two and a half seasons here in Milwaukee. He lands at No. 49 on our list of the Top Milwaukee Brewers of the 2010s.
So far on our list, it’s been two bullpen arms, Smith and Rodriguez. We’ll see who lands at No. 48 soon.