After being selected by the Seattle Mariners with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft, Kyle Lewis played only 40 games of Single-A baseball with the Everett AquaSox before tearing his right ACL and meniscus. Less than a year later, he bruised his other knee crashing into the center field wall and was unable to play in the Arizona Fall League in 2017.
Lewis finally made it to the bigs in 2019 and surged to an American League Rookie of the Year award in the shortened 2020 season, but then bruised his right knee crashing into the center field wall once again in 2021 Spring Training (causing him to miss time in the beginning of the season) and re-tore his right meniscus chasing down a fly ball in center field shortly after his return from injury. Lewis missed the rest of the 2021 season after getting another surgery on his knee, and many Mariners fans have since doubted if they would ever see Lewis on the field again.
I believe Kyle Lewis will not only return from injury in 2022, but will also be a major part of the Mariners’ success.
If there’s one thing we know for certain about Kyle Lewis, it’s that he isn’t a quitter. Multiple significant injuries and surgeries have been enough to end several players’ careers, but Lewis isn’t anywhere close to stepping away from the game; he recently posted a video of himself to Instagram taking full-speed swings in the batting cage and has been taking live batting practice from recovering pitcher Chris Archer this offseason.
Lewis is a tremendous athlete, and fortunately, the repeat injury on his knee is his meniscus, not his ACL. With this in mind, after a first ACL tear, an athlete becomes 6x more likely to tear the same ACL again. So, it will be important for the Mariners to maximize Lewis’s production while limiting his exposure to potential injury.
I don’t believe Seattle should let Kyle Lewis play another single inning in center field; Lewis plays with tenacity, and forcing him to play a position at anything less than 100% would be a disservice to him and the team. If the Mariners are diligent and limit him to consistent starts as a DH, and maybe a few starts in right field to spell Mitch Haniger, there’s nothing stopping him from re-establishing his presence as a force in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup next season.