Before all this happened, Mariners fans didn’t have a lot to root for coming into the 2020 season. A high draft pick was the most realistic prize and beyond that, there was the hope that one of their promising outfield prospects would establish themselves in the big leagues. It wasn’t so far-fetched to think that Jarred Kelenic could force his way onto the big league roster at some point, service time considerations be damned.
While Kelenic is perpetually mashing taters against his poor teammates in Tacoma and the Mariners debate whether to bring him up, fans are enjoying the emergence of another Seattle outfielder. No, not Julio Rodriguez. Kyle Lewis!
Before play on Wednesday, Lewis was fifth among position players in fWAR right behind the hitter on a quest to hit .400,
Charlie Blackmon Donovan Solano. Lewis was slashing .357/.430/.543 for a 179 wRC+, and he had four home runs before Wednesday.
There's just no stopping Kyle Lewis these days. Here's home run No. 4 -- a 411-foot, three-run shot -- for the #Mariners rookie. pic.twitter.com/Z7BhAtGJSp— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 11, 2020
Lewis debut last season as a September call-up and though he ultimately produced well, there were some less than ideal results. It’s never a good idea to look too much into September numbers, but a key for Lewis was going to be limiting strikeouts. In Double-A last season, Lewis struck out 29.4 percent of the time and strikeout rate tends to rise when hitters reach the majors. In his first taste of the bigs, Lewis went down on strikes 29 times in 75 plate appearances.
In roughly the same sample (so take this with a grain of salt), Lewis has cut down his strikeout rate to a high-but-tenable 29.1 percent while also drawing walks at an above average clip. Lewis has more than enough raw power to make up for some swing and miss especially if he can walk 11.4 percent of the time. His average exit velocity is a little lackluster, but he’s cracked 110 mph already this season. That puts him 44th in the majors.
Lewis’s start doesn’t mean that he’s a sure thing, but he is certainly deserving our attention. Right now, there are few players who are more exciting to watch.
Ben Clemens | FanGraphs: 2020 has brought expanded rosters and the three-batter minimum for pitchers. How has that affected reliever usage?
Russell Carleton | Baseball Prospectus $: Speaking of relievers, why hasn’t a team opted to completely bullpen their games? It’s a good strategy that would completely work in practice, right?
Matthew LaMar | Royals Review: On Tuesday night, Mike Matheny pinch-hit Ryan McBroom for Alex Gordon, and McBroom rewarded him with a home run. It was a mundane moment but it perhaps marked the beginning of the end for Alex Gordon’s career.