MINNEAPOLIS -- New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon raised some eyebrows in Spring Training when he said his goal for Justin Smoak was to try to lead the American League in doubles.
McClendon's push was for his first baseman to be a better overall hitter rather than just looking to pull balls for home runs, but that seemed a tough task for a guy whose career high for doubles was 24, and who had hit just 19 in the previous season.
But Smoak latched onto the idea, acknowledging that he hits better when he goes to all fields, and he laced his team-leading 10th double on Saturday in his 42nd game of the year, putting him on pace for 39 for the season. If that pace continues, he would double his total of doubles from a year ago.
The switch-hitter has hit five doubles from each side of the plate, further adding to the improved balance he's trying to provide to the lineup.
Smoak is on pace to hit 23 home runs with 100 RBIs and his .243 batting average and .428 slugging percentage are both career bests, though he's taken fewer walks this season and his on-base percentage of .308 is behind last year's .334.
Trevor Plouffe of the Twins currently leads the American League in doubles with 17.