Black Sox Beat Writer
Chicago Sports Online
The Chicago Black Sox named their “Newcomer of the Year” for 2040 on Thursday, honoring a player who joined the roster in late May and blossomed into a valuable contributor.
Smith never looked back.
He appeared in 31 games for the Sox, all but one in relief, throwing 68.2 innings. He finished with a 2.62 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 64 Ks, 20 walks, and 1.3 WAR.
Smith compiled a 5-1 record, with 3 saves.
“To be honest, when we called Brian up in May, we didn’t think he’d be in Chicago long – we figured he’d go back to Carolina for more seasoning,” said pitching coach Art Messer. “But he banished those thoughts in a hurry – Brian established himself as a go-to guy in the ‘pen right from the start.”
Sox front office officials considered 1B Mark Simpson for the award, as well, but ultimately felt Smith’s longer season – and relatively unexpected contribution – couldn’t be ignored.
“Clearly, Mark made a huge impact on the team, and our offense pretty much collapsed after his injury,” said Manager Bret Richards. “But Brian … well, Brian was a wonderful surprise for us.
Smith can’t quite figure out why everyone was surprised, though.
“I mean, I did pretty well in the minors – it’s not like I sucked or anything,” he said. “I got the call to Chicago a little sooner than I thought, but I never felt like I didn’t belong in the BBA. Anyway, I guess it’s OK to be a surprise to your coaches – so long as it’s a good surprise!”