Kyle Lewis and Eric Karros
Kyle Lewis: 25 years old, already has ROY, .264/.347/.477 (projected to 31 HR, 14 SB, 8 2B, 78 RBI, 103 R, 198 K)
Eric Karros: 14 years, One Silver Slugger, .268/.325/.454, 324 2B, 284 HR, 1027 RBI, 11.8 oWAR, -11.2 dWAR, 10.4 WAR
There’s a popular trope when looking at a retired player and asking… too soon, just right, too late? Or, to put it simpler, was their skill set best utilized when they played, or could they have benefited more from a different period of time?
With Eric Karros, he was just right. He played just before analytics started coming into play, and there wasn’t much thought into defense other than “oh, he had 11 errors in 1997”. Any later, and he likely would’ve moved to the AL to be a DH. oWAR and dWAR can’t just be added up though, as they aren’t weighted equally, as Karros finished with a total WAR of 10.4.
For Lewis to better what Karros was able to accomplish, he doesn’t need to do much, at least if we are going off of WAR comparisons (for the backbone of the article is the measuring stick). A lot of these Dodgers players weren’t as good as we remember, in large part to the success that the team had as a whole.
Lewis has a 2.0 WAR, and he hasn’t even played a full season. If he can continue to grow, seeing him put together seasons in the .270’s, with a decent eye, homers around the ’20s, a bit of speed, and better defense once he moves out of centerfield and into leftfield, Lewis projects to provide 2.0-3.0 WAR per year.
Say we get ten seasons around that rate (trying to stay level-headed, and not talk about their ceilings), he would end up in the high 20’s for WAR. To compare, that would mean he had the same type of impact as Justin Turner (29.5), Asdrubal Cabrera (29.1), or Matt Carpenter (28.3). Each of those guys played over ten years, and are currently 35, 34, and 34, respectively.
Can Lewis be better than Karros? Yes, definitely, and I think he does just that, buy a solid margin. We will also end each of these comparisons with a reasonable ceiling… and I give his comparison as Andrew McCutchen, who has amassed a 44.6 WAR over 12 years.