From 1980 to 1995, Carl Lewis had one of the most dominating runs that any athlete has ever had: Top 10 ranking in every year, nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championship medals. He monopolized the 100 m, 200 m, long jump events, and helped corner the markets in the 4 x 100 m and 4 x 200 m relays. He ran the 100 m race in under 10 seconds 15 times and the 200 m race in under 20 seconds 10 times. He sprinted to the finish line extremely fast and, more often than not, claimed victory. His brother from another mother, Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners, is off to a blistering start as well, as he hit a home run in three consecutive games to begin his major league career. Did he shoot his wad too early, leaving nothing for the final two weeks? Or can he maintain this pace and help lead you to fantasy glory?
Lewis is 24 years old, 6′ 4″ 210 pounds, and bats from the right side. The Seattle Mariners selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. A devastating knee injury derailed his professional career only 30 games in, but he was able to bounce back and rise through the system quickly. Last year, he played 37 games in Double-A and posted a .220 batting average with a .255 BABIP and .152 ISO. The strikeout rate was 29.4% while the walk rate was 10.8%. Before getting the call up this season, Lewis played 122 games in Double-A and hit .263 with a .367 BABIP and .136 ISO. The strikeout rate was 29.4% and the walk rate was 10.8%.
Now, since he got called up on September 10th, Lewis is hitting .360 with a .333 BABIP. The ISO is .560!!! The strikeout rate is 25.9% while the walk rate is 3.7%.
Let’s dig in deeper. Before I begin, I’m going to focus on the Double-A numbers from 2018 and 2019, as he was likely still recovering from his knee injury in 2016 and 2017.
The GB/FB is 1.43. That ratio was 1.22 and 1.14 the past two minor league seasons. The ground ball rate is 52.6%, well above the 40-41% range in the minors. The line drive rate has plummeted from the mid-20% range down to 10.5%. The HR/FB rate is 57.1%. Yeah, ok. He posted a 11.1% rate in both 2018 and 2019. One interesting thing that stood out when looking at the batted ball data is that he’s not as pull happy (26.3% vs 42-46% range the past two years). The sample size of six games in the majors is tiny, so things may normalize. With that said, there’s only two weeks left in the season, so maybe not. All we can do is look at the data we have and contextualize it as best as possible.
The plate discipline numbers are frightening to me. The swinging strike rate is 20.6% and the overall contact rate is 58.3%. Now, the chase rate of 30.6% isn’t egregious, but it’s not great either. There are holes in his swing, which give me the heebie jeebies.
Looking at the splits, he’s been crushing righties, as all four home runs have been hit off them. Lewis has struggled against lefties, but on only five plate appearances.
The Statcast data shows a barrel rate of 31.6%. The current leader is Joey Gallo with a 26.4% mark. The exit velocity of 93.6 mph would place him in the Top 10 as well. Dayam!
If you’ve read me before, you know that I always like to look at how pitchers are attacking hitters, especially young ones, because adjustments will be made. Looking at the Statcast zone charts, it looks like the standard, high-and-tight/low-and-away approach. Lewis is crushing everything middle/in. The exploitable zones look to be low-and-away, and high-and-away. My guess is that pitchers start working more off the plate away.
Lewis is a tough one for me to interpret because the power is legit, but there’s no way he’s sustaining a 57% HR/FB rate and .560 ISO. He has also shown that he’s willing to go oppo and possesses the power to drive it out that way. The swinging strike rate is so damn high though and the overall contact rates aren’t great. There are holes in his swing. Looking at the schedule, he gets to face the Pirates, Orioles, Astros, and Athletics. The Pirates and Orioles series look juicy, especially the Baltimore one. Lewis could feast on some awful pitching. The Astros and Athletics? Not so much, as they both have things to play for.
Personally, I’m fading Lewis, but understand that it’s well within the range of outcomes that he continues this heater. TRASH