It’s Fred Lewis Time

Nobody honestly expected the San Francisco Giants to compete for anything significant this year. Their prized offseason acquisition was Aaron Rowand, a guy coming off of a career year in a hitter’s park; they still owed Barry Zito mega-bucks; and the outlook beyond this year did not look too bright, either. They are a bad team, but what gets lost in the shuffle too often when discussing like-performing teams is that not all of the players are bad. The Giants, as a team, may struggle, but some of their individual parts are solid or all-star caliber.

One of these players, whom Giants fans seem to be sold on as a building block, is Fred Lewis. Now, no matter what this silly article at Baseball Evolution thinks, Fred is nowhere (and I mean nowhere!) near the level of Barry Bonds… but he still looks pretty good.

In 117 games this year he has put up a .285/.355/.454 slash line with 23 doubles, 10 triples, and 9 home runs. His speed and numbers remind me of Curtis Granderson, just without the home runs that would boost the three components of his slash line. Chances are, most fans have never heard of Lewis, and while he may not sustain his current performance—a .372 BABIP—his OPS is currently higher than both Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds, two guys with stronger reputations.

With regards to his .372 BABIP, I’m not saying Lewis cannot sustain a high number, but .372 is borderline ridiculous. It has been speculated (but never tested… hmm… maybe I’ll check that soon) that speedier players can/will post higher BABIPs because they will beat out grounders when others would not. Perhaps Lewis falls into this category, but my money would be put in the regression department in that metric’s cubby.

He does strike out his fair share of time but he has not been in the big leagues for very long and patience seems to be one of those virtues that grows with experience. His 27.1% strikeout rate is in the same vicinity as Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla, for those curious. He is also right around the halfway point in walk percentage, amongst qualifying senior circuit members.

All told, he has a 1.01 WPA/LI, and has been playing solid defense. Via the + – system, Lewis is a +8 leftfielder, which is tied for second in the big leagues. Carl Crawford, at +20, is far and away the leader. For those interested, Johnny Damon, Matt Holliday, and Garret Anderson are also +8 in leftfield this year. Dave pointed out that the Giants may be shipping Randy Winn out of town after this season, as he is a very attractive commodity from the perspective of other teams, but Fred Lewis looks like a very decent chip with which to build.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

6 Responses to “It’s Fred Lewis Time”

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  1. PhoenixV says:

    The Baseball Evolution article is tongue-in-cheek:

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  2. His BABIP is elevated, but so is his strikeout rate, it is higher than it was his past two seasons, even when accounting for MLEs. And if you reduce his strikeout rate to about the level of last year’s, his BABIP reverts to 0.346, which is almost the .344 he had last season in the majors. Usually means that he can not sustain that BABIP given his sudden boost in striking out, but essentially, compared to last year, instead of making an out via a BIP, he’s making one by striking out.

    The Giants have moved him into a power hitting position in the lineup (3rd) and he says that he will be able to hit for more power. It will be interesting to see how his hitting line changes, if any, with his switch, given what he said, he thinks he can get to over 20 HR.

    Thanks for sharing that about Randy Winn, Giants boards typically downgrade Winn’s worth, saying he’s overpriced. I myself would have only guessed that he would be moderately attractive, as he is about average as a hitter and his salary is about average for what average type players get in the free agent market, so it appears that even I undervalued Winn. I hope very much that he is attractive to other teams, I would like to get some better prospects for him plus open up a spot for a number of prospects to start in, Schierholtz, Bowker, Lewis (if, say, Horwitz starts in LF).

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  3. FairweatherFan says:

    I took a quick look @ Lewis a few weeks ago regarding BABIP. While his LD% doesn’t support that BABIP, I did find that a large percentage of his ground balls went for hits up the middle. (as opposed to balls hit to the right or left side of the infield)

    This is backed up by my own observation, as well. As a giants fan watching too many games, I have observed that Lewis hits many low liners that one or two hop out of the infield in the proximity of 2nd base. While these are technically classified as grounders I would suggest that they may have a much higher chance of going for a hit than a typical grounder hit to the right or left of the infield.

    So, in short, I think there is a chance that his high BABIP is not ridiculous based on his proclivity for hitting the ball hard up the middle of the infield – hit it where they ain’t, so to speak.

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  4. Enrique says:

    I’ve seen him play a few times this year and how he can be considered that good defensively is a mystery to me. He’s butchered a play in every game, he looks like Lonnie Smith out there. Then again, Damon, Holliday and Anderson aren’t going to be winning Gold Gloves anytime soon.

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  5. Mike P says:

    Does Garret Anderson really play defense on par with that of guys like Damon and Holliday? THT has his RZR at .853, which looks to be a bit above average for him, whereas Holliday is up at .931, Lewis .915 and Damon .917 (in LF). Anderson has always looked to me to be pretty average in the field, especially compared to this group.

    I guess it’s just yet another exhibit in the discrepancies between fielding metrics.

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  6. Don says:

    Fred Lewis is a class act, and let’s face it, no one in the Majors looks as cool as Fred does when he’s wearing his shades (unless he accidentally tosses a bat or two into the stands). I love his hustle, his humility, and his confidence at the plate. Tim Lincecum’s my favorite pitcher on the new look Giants and Fred Lewis
    is my favorite position player.

    Don Chin
    Editor Fan Site

    P.S. There’s a very good article about Fred here:

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