It’s hard to write anything else about Fred Lewis. It’s not because he wouldn’t have helped the Giants, either. If you browsed this website by posts tagged ‘Fred Lewis’ you’ll see the numerous different posts, discussions, and topics on Lewis. He was a weirdly divisive player among Giants fans.
You’ll notice I said was. Past tense. The Giants have traded Lewis to the Blue Jays for a PTBNL or cash considerations.
The Lewis debate, at it’s core, boils down to realistic expectations. After a successful 2008 in which Lewis was worth 2.4 wins backed by solid hitting, above-average defense, and good baserunning, the Giants entered 2009 with the idea that Lewis could be more. So much more that in fact they wanted to hit him 3rd in the lineup. And they wanted him to hit for power.
Somewhere in the world, this following paragraph should be carved into stone.
The Giants expect Lewis to be more of a presence in the batter’s box while spending less time in it. Though the Giants did virtually nothing during the offseason to upgrade their offense, they believe that Lewis can be one of the power sources they sorely need — not a 40-homer slugger, but somebody who can hit at least half that.
You could call this a Spring Training fluff piece, and rightfully so, but I think at some level it’s a peak inside the Giants’ mindset with Lewis. He’s athletic as heck, fast, and just looks like he should be able to hit some dingers. How he looks is such an old school philosophy that it seems to fit right in with the Giants of the past 5 years. But as we’ve learned, how a player looks really has nothing to do with his on-field performance and unfortunately lends itself to the pitfalls of wish-casting. What you would most likely get from Lewis seems to have been well established by his track record in the minors. He’ll strikeout, but he’s going to post an above-average OBP with moderate power. He’ll swipe a few bags, too. The similarity between Lewis’ career slash-lines in the minors vs. majors is startling — .283/.383/.423 in the minors vs. 277/.355/.420 in the majors. The team was expecting the player with a career .423 slugging percentage in the minors to magically transform into a 20 HR hitter by the mere move of a few spots in the batting order.
Lewis struggled some in 2009, I don’t think anyone can question that, but he still offers several skills that would have benefited the Giants. Most noted is his ability to hit right-handed pitching. Examine the following:
Name wOBA vs. RHP Lewis .349 Rowand .335 DeRosa .325 Bowker .322 Velez .321 Torres .245
That’s the current OF roster for the Giants by career split against righties. You can make the argument that Bowker and maybe Torres have improved over what their career split would indicate, but Lewis is still probably the best — or 2nd best — option the Giants have in the OF when a RHP is on the mound. Remember this every time Velez is taking swings against RHP and playing the OF.
Here’s to you, Fred. As I stated above, you were a weirdly divisive Giant. Maybe the most divisive one that I can remember in recent history. I wish you the best in Toronto.