Smith is one of the most common last names in America, so I got to wondering, what would a team of the greatest Smiths ever to play the game of baseball look like? Sure, it would have the Wizard of Oz at shortstop and all-time saves leader Lee Smith coming in out of the ‘pen in the 9th, but would there be enough talented Smiths to fill out the rest of a major-league roster? And even if there were, would the team be any good? The answer to these questions, I would say, is yes, and yes.
Altogether, 142 Smiths have played in the Major Leagues, including two men known to history only as “Smith 1” and “Smith 2” – they played in only one game each in the 1800s and since only last names were recorded in the box score, their first names have been lost to history.
Some Smiths tried to make up for their boring last name and mediocre baseball ability by acquiring colorful first names or middle names, among them Klondike Smith, Skyrocket Smith, and Phenomenal Smith, but alas, none of these players was awesome enough on the actual baseball diamond to crack our squad.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the All-Time Smith Team (homers and stolen bases are career numbers averaged over a full season; the rest are career totals):
CF Elmer Smith – .310/.398/.434, 5 HR, 30 SB
LF Lonnie Smith – .288/.371/.420, 10 HR, 37 SB
C Earl Smith – .303/.374/.432, 9 HR, 3 SB
1B Reggie Smith – .287/.366/.489, 26 HR, 11 SB
RF Al Smith – .272/.358/.429, 18 HR, 7 SB
3B Red Smith – .278/.353/.377, 4 HR, 17 SB
SS Ozzie Smith – .262/.337/.328, 2 HR, 37 SB
2B Pop Smith – .222/.287/.313, 3 HR, 25 SB
The rest of the bullpen and bench could easily be filled out with any of the vast number of relievers and benchwarmers named “Smith” who made The Show for a few years and did decently, but not great.
As you can see this is actually a pretty strong team. Not much power, but a ridiculous amount of speed on the basepaths and very strong pitching. Projected leadoff man and centerfielder Elmer Smith had a career OBP of almost .400, and was also a mini Babe Ruth, beginning his career as a pitcher and compiling a 75-57 record and a 3.35 ERA in 149 games including two 20-win seasons. Lonnie Smith was an outstanding outfielder for the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals, and Braves in the 80s, and once stole as many as 68 bases in a season. Earl Smith was an astonishingly good-hitting catcher in the 1920s, although somewhat of a clogger on the basepaths, not surprisingly. Cleanup hitter Reggie Smith was one of the better switch-hitters of all time, and leads the squad with 314 career home runs. He actually played more in the outfield, but finished his career at first, and the other 141 Smiths had ridiculously little experience playing first-sacker. Ozzie Smith is of course the undisputed greatest defensive shortstop in baseball history, and turned himself into a rather decent hitter by the end of his career. If there is one big weakness in the batting order, it is second baseman Pop Smith and his pathetic .600 career OPS, but he must have been pretty awesome on defense because he was allowed to play 1112 games in the Major Leagues, and at least he did have a bit of speed.
But it is the pitching staff which may actually be the true strength of this team. Staff ace Hilton Smith, the only Hall-of-Famer on the team, was probably the second best pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues, behind only Satchel Paige. He played in the outfield on the days he didn’t pitch, and was quite a good hitter, batting as high as .431 in 1946. Frank Smith had two seasons of at least 20 wins and another with 19. Bryn Smith was a very under-appreciated pitcher in the 1980s because he played for the Montreal Expos and didn’t get much run support, but he did manage to win 18 games in 1985. The bullpen is also a strength with three pitchers who served as closers, led by the great Lee Smith, and by Dave Smith who was actually even better than Lee, but had a shorter career.
Final Verdict: A pretty awesome team which could probably win a World Series, especially if some of these guys were in their primes, when their numbers were even better than the career averages/totals you see here. The lack of power is a bit of a concern, but with amazing speed up and down the lineup and the pitching to make small leads stand up, they could make little ball work.