The Braves never would’ve captured their first World Series title since 1995 without Will Smith, and Atlanta’s former closer now has a chance to make history with the Rangers, who are on the cusp of raising the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Smith inked a three-year, $40 million prior to the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign but never quite lived up to that contract. He accrued -0.3 fWAR across two-and-a-half seasons with the Braves, but he was nearly flawless in Atlanta’s postseason run. In 11 games, he gave up no runs and notched seven saves.
At last year’s deadline, Alex Anthopoulos moved Smith in exchange for Jake Odorizzi. Even though he didn’t contribute in the postseason, Smith picked up a second-straight championship ring. With the Astros, Smith pitched to the tune of a 3.27 ERA and 2.66 FIP over 22 innings, which was much better than his numbers in Atlanta.
Then, this offseason, the 33-year-old signed a deal with the Rangers. Across 57.1 regular-season innings, Smith owns a 4.40 ERA but his 3.36 FIP and 1.064 WHIP paint him in a better light. He’s seen a little action in the postseason, but it’s been mostly garbage time, appearing three times and giving up two runs in 2.0 innings.
Will Smith will certainly not decide Texas’ fate, but back to that history I was talking about. If the Rangers top the Phillies or Diamondbacks, the former Braves closer will become the only player to win three straight World Series titles with three separate teams.
From what I’ve found, Eric Hinske is the only player that has come close. He played with the Red Sox in 2007, the Rays in 2008, and the Yankees in 2009, losing with Tampa Bay. Don Baylor played in a World Series for three teams in three years — 1986 Red Sox, 1987 Twins, 1988 A’s — but only won with Minnesota.
Several players have won a championship with three different teams, but none did it consecutively. Lonnie Smith won three with the 1980 Phillies, 1982 Cardinals, and 1985 Royals while nearly becoming the first player to win a World Series with four teams when he was a part of the 1991 and 1992 Braves.
Will Smith may be an unlikely candidate, but Atlanta’s former closer is on the cusp of history.
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire