Seattle Mariners CF Kyle Lewis is Projected to Take a Step Back

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 22: Kyle Lewis #1 of the Seattle Mariners reacts. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 22: Kyle Lewis #1 of the Seattle Mariners reacts. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners takes a practice swing.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 25: Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners warms up in the on-deck circle. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners recently made MLB Network’s Top 10 center fielders (right now) list, but other experts think otherwise.

FanGraphs, a very trustworthy baseball statistics page created a computer projection system called ZiPs. The projection system has been live since the 2004 season and been a great discussion starter.

ZiPs thinks that Kyle Lewis will take a big step back in 2021 despite winning AL Rookie of the Year in 2020.

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2021 ZiPs Projection: Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners

FanGraphs has Kyle Lewis playing 122 games and batting .227. Lewis hit .262 last season, that is a 35 point difference! ZiPs also projects him to post a .282 on-base percentage, a .377 slugging percentage, and a .659 OPS.

Last season, Lewis posted a .364 OBP, .437 slugging percentage, and .801 OPS. So, FanGraphs isn’t saying Kyle will take a small step back, but rather a large one.

ZiPs projections also say that the Seattle Mariners center fielder will hit 15 home runs. He is also only projected to drive in 54 runs.

In 2020, Lewis hit 11 home runs in a shortened season. So I can’t even imagine him only hitting 15 home runs. Obviously, I have a bias towards Lewis, but I think it is a huge mistake by ZiPs.

What might be the most surprising is his projected wins above replacement. The 2020 AL Rookie of the Year is supposed to post a -0.2 WAR. Even Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop are projected to post a positive WAR.

This past year, Kyle Lewis posted a solid 1.4 WAR according to ESPN. The MLB leader was Mookie Betts, who posted a 3.4 WAR.

To compare, Nolan Arenado, Cody Bellinger, and Liam Hendriks also posted a 1.4 WAR. So that should tell you enough about how good Kyle Lewis played as a rookie.

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I think Kyle Lewis is capable of making the necessary adjustments to improve his game. The sophomore slump is a real thing, but I have confidence in Lewis.

The drop in OPS and ISO from 2019 to 2020 is a little worrisome, but it was very encouraging to see his OBP go up. Lewis cut down on his strikeouts and increased his walks between 2019 and 2020. To me, that is a sign of Lewis maturing and learning quickly.

With that being said, I predict Kyle will increase his batting average and finish above .275. I think his OBP will remain in the same area as 2020, so I will set the line at .360.

As far as his slugging percentage, I am hoping he can increase back up to at least .450. In terms of home runs and RBIs, I predict that Kyle will hit 27 dingers and drive in 79 runs. And why not throw in 11 stolen bases as well.

2021 will be an exciting season for Seattle Mariners fans. Not only do we get to watch the current upcoming stars, but we get to watch some of the mid-season call ups we have been waiting for.

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