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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