March 31, 2013 at 8:39 AM
Who will Swing for the Fences and connect early for Mariners? Going with Justin Smoak
We’re running a new Swing for the Fences contest at the Times this baseball season and giving away prizes to those who correctly pick the Mariners player who hits the most home runs every month. You can register and enter your April picks right now and then have something extra to root for tomorrow night when the Mariners open the 2013 season in Oakland.
I’ve decided to play, too. My pick for April? I’ve hopped on board the Smoakamotive and will be going with Justin Smoak. I think he’ll hit six April home runs.
There are many reasons I think Smoak will lead the way. He’s coming off a very hot spring training and a pretty good September prior to that. But I can see him continuing to ride the momentum he picked up in Cactus League play and carrying it into the season.
Smoak has enjoyed a hot April start before, belting four homers and posting a .920 OPS in April two years ago. So, you know he can hit in the colder weather.
The Mariners also play an early series in Texas this first month and Smoak always seems to go deep at Rangers Ballpark. He’s got 11 homers and an .806 OPS in 56 games there, so I figure he’s good for two or three long balls in that one series. Smoak also has a .769 OPS at U.S. Cellular Field, so I can see him launching a couple in that series next weekend in Chicago.
That and the pushed-in fences at Safeco Field?
I like my Smoak chaces.
Let’s see your picks.