Toronto Blue Jays: Justin Smoak aiming to repeat 2017 success

DETROIT, MI - JULY 14: Justin Smoak
DETROIT, MI - JULY 14: Justin Smoak /

Justin Smoak is focused on another successful season for the Toronto Blue Jays, after taking steps to deal with a previously undisclosed injury which affected him towards the end of last year.

It’s fair to say Justin Smoak‘s production during the 2017 season for the Toronto Blue Jays was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. By the end of the year, he had set career-highs in a whole host of categories, including home runs, RBI, batting average, hits, OBP and slugging percentage.

In addition, Smoak performed extremely well at first base, continuing the progress he had started to show in 2016. By the end of last season, he had only committed two errors.

While this was a case of the 31-year-old finally living up to his undoubted potential, understandably, there are questions. More specifically, was last year a one-off, or a launching pad for him to begin producing more consistently?

Those who believe it was a one-off, will conceivably point to the dip in form Smoak experienced during the final two months of the campaign. However, this is somewhat unfair.

While there is no denying the 2017 All-Star’s productivity did decline, consider that his six homers and 13 RBI in August would have still set career-highs if pro-rated over the course of the season. And while September was poor, this was still only one bad month out of six.

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In any event, it now transpires Smoak actually had a genuine reason for his decline in effectiveness as the season wore on. As reported by Gregor Chisholm of, he was dealing with patella tendinitis in one of his knees.

The only reason we weren’t made aware of the Goose Creek, South Carolina native’s injury issues at the time, was because he didn’t want to make any excuses. Throw in fatigue and the general wear and tear of a season, and it’s no wonder he struggled during August and September:

"“I think it’s just the grind of the season,” Smoak said to Chisholm and other members of the media at the weekend. “You’re going to have ups and downs. Days you feel great and days you don’t. I dealt with an issue in the past with a little patella tendinitis, and that was kind of the main thing.”"

Taking everything into account, any questions about if Smoak can reproduce his form of last year evolve into wondering if he will be fully recovered? Again speaking to Chisholm and others, he said:

"“I feel like I’ve done some things this offseason to make (the knee) better, and I just have to keep doing the things that I was doing to keep it strong and try to alleviate that pain.”"

It’s imperative Smoak does recover and perform again, both for the team’s postseason hopes and his own future. If he reverts back to his career averages, the chances are the Toronto Blue Jays won’t pick up his club option for 2019.

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What kind of success are you predicting for Smoak in 2018? Will he have another productive season, or was last year a one-off? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.