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Dodgers notes: Will Smith, James Outman, Ryan Yarbrough

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The catching position is arguably the most physically demanding position in baseball, and Dodgers catcher Will Smith is starting to feel the lingering tolls that come with manning the backstop. The repeated instances of taking foul balls off his body or a swing’s follow through off of the helmet are beginning to creep up on the first-time All-Star as illustrated by his subpar offensive output since the second half began.

Smith in the first half was one of the top offensive catchers in baseball, nearing similar statistics to that of the All Star starting catcher Sean Murphy of the Braves. Smith at the break was hitting .279 with 13 HR, 45 RBI, and an OPS of .890, while walking more than he struck out.

The second half has been a struggle for Smith, as although his average has remained similar, his power numbers have declined (.413 slugging percentage, including Saturday’s home run), as he connected for just his first home run of the second half in last night’s frustrating defeat to the Padres. His strikeouts have skyrocketed as well, as he has struck out 19 times to just seven walks since the beginning of the second half.

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes about Smith’s recent struggles and identifies certain aspects that have signaled regression in Smith’s offense:

“I think the trigger is … it (his swing) is not direct to the ball. I go to swing and it’s more going backwards rather than going right to the ball. It’s a little back, a little down and then to it and you’ve only got milliseconds to hit a baseball... Overall, this whole year I went through some stuff, had to adjust. I think that probably caught up to me a month or two later,” Smith said.