We have finally reached the outfield portion of our series looking at Mariners starters individual Steamer projections. But this is where things get a bit messy.
Unlike other position players, the Mariners outfielders aren’t likely to play in one specific spot all year. While we can lock J.P. Crawford into shortstop, we can’t really do the same with somebody like Mallex Smith. Smith will likely play all 3 spots in 2020, so looking at these players in one position doesn’t make much sense.
So rather than try to project who will get the most starts in left field, we will just take the 5 current Mariners who are likely to get most of the playing time in any of the 3 outfield spots. Today, we start with perhaps the player who provided the most excitement for Mariners fans last year, Mr. Kyle Lewis.
Kyle Lewis Steamer Projections: 125 games, 529 PAs, .233/.298/.392, 17 home runs, 83 wRC+, 0.1 fWAR
Many Mariners fans may look at these numbers and think Steamer is insane. I mean, did you see Kyle Lewis last September? He hit 6 home runs and destroyed the Reds. Did they even watch him?
Well, while Lewis did provide some fun moments in his debut and had a solid enough MLB debut, the big power surge did mask some serious problems. Not the least of which was his 38.7% K rate. Nobody can succeed in MLB striking out that often, especially if you don’t walk. Lewis’ 4% BB rate show that even his modest .268 BA and sub-par .293 OBP were likely unsustainable in a larger sample size.
However, the power is legitimate. Lewis’ best tool has always been the power game and he carries a 65-grade power tool. But if you can’t make enough contact to get to power, it doesn’t play well. Steamer actually has Lewis’ K% down to a still bad, but more sustainable, 28%, yet his average and OBP still are projected to go down.
Steamer isn’t a fan of what Lewis brings defensively, saddling him with a -6.5 Def score. Lewis is a solid-average defender in either corner spot and can handle center for a game or two without killing you. There were a few blunders in Lewis’ debut, but nothing to suggest he won’t be at least league average with the glove.
Lewis speed is just slightly above league average, so while he doesn’t get you a lot of value in that facet of the game, he shouldn’t lose any either. Personally, I don’t think Lewis is ready to be the everyday guy. I think he would benefit from a trip to AAA to work on a few things, but that could possibly change this spring.
Either way, Lewis is projected by most to be the Opening Day left fielder for the Mariners. And if Steamer is relatively close on their projection, Lewis will need a monster 2021 to show he should still be considered part of the team. But Lewis has faced plenty of adversity, so don’t be surprised to see him beat his current expectations.