The Smolinski effect.

It’s time to start wondering if Evan Carter’s 2023 was a fluke.

Does anyone remember Jake Smolinski? Or, more to the point, does anyone remember Jake Smolinski’s 2014 call up with the Rangers?

Smolinksi was an outfielder in the Rangers system in 2014 when he was called up toward the end of the 2014 season. This was the season the Rangers would lose 95 games and end up in dead last in the American League West.

The Rangers were horrible and injury riddled and decided to call up Smolinski. Why not? They had nothing to lose.

All the kid did was crush the ball. In twenty-four games and eighty-six at-bats, the twenty-five-year-old hit .349, with a stellar .391 on-base percentage, .903 OPS and an OPS+ of 150. He hit so well, the Rangers won fourteen of their final twenty games of the season, ending on a high note. 

(Smolinki’s late-season heroics also prevented the Rangers from getting the first-round pick they were almost a lock to get before he helped spark the September surge. Instead of picking Dansby Swanson, who ended up falling to the Diamondbacks at one, or Alex Bregman, who the Astros picked at two, the Rangers had to settle for Dillon Tate.)

That eye-opening end-of-season performance from Smolinski turned out to be a fluke. He batted .193 in 2015, .238 in 2016, .259 in 2017, and .128 in 2018. His OPS+ was never higher than the 77 he racked up in 2016. He was out of the major leagues by 2019.

The Jake Smolinski story is a cautionary warning about Evan Carter, who put up equally impressive late-season numbers in 2023 as Smolinksi did in 2014. 

Unlike Smolinski, Carter’s performance helped the Rangers win the World Series.

Will Carter’s fate end up being like Smolinski’s?