A Texas baseball standout is getting the Barry Bonds treatment.
No, Rockwall-Heath (Rockwall, Texas) star Canaan Smith isn’t being accused of saltiness with teammates and media. Rather, Smith is getting free passes to first base that reminded the Dallas Morning News of the late-career walk rates of the retired San Francisco Giants slugger.
Smith, an Arkansas signee, has 32 walks in 24 games this season. In six district games he’s been walked 10 times, a rate of 1.67 per game.
Compare that to Bonds, who in 2004 set the MLB record for walks with 232 in his 147 games. That’s 1.58 per game.
“I think a lot of people are saying, ‘OK, let’s see what he can do,'” Rockwall-Heath coach Greg Harvey told the Morning News. “Then when he does it then they just say, ‘OK, we’re not going to do that again.’ “
As the Morning News tells it, Smith hit a home run last week against North Mesquite in the first inning. He was then intentionally walked on his next three trips to the plate.
“There is some frustration,” Harvey told the Morning News. “He wants to hit. That’s why we go through practice and do BP and do all the things that we do, for him to be able to hit in the game. But he also understands it and we laid the groundwork letting him know that this was going to happen, and sure enough it has.”
Like the logic once held for “Hack-a-Shaq” in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal can hurt you far less from the free-throw line than anywhere else on the floor.
Similar logic applies for free passes to first for prominent sluggers, and Texas baseball coaches are going with “Walk a Smith.”
It may be effective in containing Smith, but not his team as a whole – Rockwall-Heath is 18-6 and 5-1 in its district.