Justin Smoak‘s transformation into a team leader began last year and he’s continued to grow into that role ever since. With ongoing injuries to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, along with Jose Bautista‘s decline in 2017, it left the door wide open for Smoak to undertake a significant leadership position with the Blue Jays.
Becoming a leader for Smoak was something that just came so naturally to him. Unlike some, he didn’t have to force anything and thump his chest to proclaim his place as leader of this ball club. With his humble personality and team first approach, the Blue Jays couldn’t have asked for a better example of the kind of player they’d want leading them.
With so many new additions to the Blue Jays this off-season, whether it be Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, or Yangervis Solarte (to name but a few), Toronto needed someone with seniority to lead the way. Unbeknownst to many has been Smoak’s gift for getting along with anyone on this team. It doesn’t matter what country you come from, or the language you speak, chances are you’ll get along and respect the likeable Smoak.
By establishing himself as not only a leader, but also one of Toronto’s better hitters, Smoak has become one of, if not the most important player on this team. With the trade deadline less than a month away, there have been plenty of rumours circulating as to which Blue Jays might be moved. Almost every players name has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, including Smoak’s. No doubt Toronto will be one of the busier teams when it comes to trades over the next month, but what’s important for them to remember is they’ll need to retain a core group of players capable of leading them in 2019.
Everyone’s well aware that next season will usher in a youth movement in Toronto. Because of this, it’s all too important to have steady leaders to help guide this team while their young talent adjusts to life in the big leagues, and frankly, I couldn’t think of a more fitting player to help guide them than Justin Smoak.