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Community Rejection: Fred Lewis

From a Mychael Urban chat session:

OK, let's get rolling. Which member of McCovey Chronicles or Athletics Nation wants to rip me first?

Hey! Play nice, gentle readers. Please do not troll the Urban. But that’s not the relevant quote:

a prediction: … (Fred) Lewis is cut loose near the end of camp.

Urban is probably right, though I’ll guess that the Giants have a decent chance of extracting a token "prospect." The good news is that the prospect has a 5% chance of turning into Darren Ford, who has a 25% chance of turning into Rajai Davis, who has a 1.35% chance of turning into Kenny Lofton. So, yeah, we’re sittin’ pretty.

What happened? Take a spin around last year’s Lewis projection thread, you’ll see plenty of optimism. Lewis was the only hitter who could take a walk, so a lot of us thought he’d be the only non-panda worth penciling in the 2011 roster. Flash-forward a year, and Lewis might be given away.

If a team can’t find a fifth-outfielder slot for a speedy guy with a .355 career on-base percentage, that team must be stacked. That, or they might not care so much about the witchery that is "on-base percentage."

I can understand playing DeRosa over Lewis – similar OBP, but DeRosa has more power.

I can understand starting Rowand in center – Lewis is quick, but he’d drive us mad playing centerfield.

I can understand playing Nate Schierholtz over Lewis – Nate has a better minor league history, and he's a better defensive fit for right field.

I can understand keeping Torres on the roster over Lewis – there should always be at least one true center fielder on the bench, and Torres also adds a touch of lefty-thumping.

So we’re at the fifth-outfielder’s spot. Lewis would fit nicely here. The haters chime in here, saying things like  "Lewis drives me nuts when he plays the outfield! He takes weird routes! He makes stupid baserunning mistakes! He just isn’t a heady baseball player!" I can see your point. I disagree with the premise that it adds up to Lewis being a below-average player, but I can see how he’s a frustrating player to watch. However, the alternative is to keep Eugenio Velez. There isn’t a weirder route-taking, more stupid baserunning mistake-making, just as unheady baseball player in the game. He can out-Lewis Lewis in any given game.

The argument for Velez, in two simple bullet points:

  • He can play second base poorly, which makes a difference on a team that will likely have three other players who can play second base.
  • He got hot when he was called up in July, and because that streak had an easily identifiable starting point, it means more than getting hot in the middle of the season. Heck, Lewis hit .300/.401/.438 Velez was called up, but Lewis made the mistake of burying that good performance in the middle of the season. He was already on the roster. Velez brought a spark! and a jolt! to the lineup, so he was better.

I just don’t get it. Well, I do. The Giants don’t care much for OBP, and they overreact to small samples. I wonder how many other teams in the league would choose Velez over Lewis. I bet most of the bad teams would even take Lewis.

Comment starter: Have I ever mentioned my theory that the Giants don’t care much for OBP, and they overreact to small samples? I think this is the first time. So please discuss this pioneering, groundbreaking exposé. You know your mind was just blown.