Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 13…of 286. Stay tuned.
Lewis Lamont Brinson is a 6’3″, 195 lb. center fielder from Tamarac, FL. Born on May 8th, 1994, he was chosen in the first round of the 2012 amateur entry draft by the Texas Rangers, 29th overall out of Coral Springs High School for $1.625 million. Follow Brinson on Twitter @LewisBrinson.
30 players chosen with the 29th overall pick have gone on to have major league careers, including Hall of Famer SS George Brett (1971, Kansas City Royals, 88.7 career WAR), RHP Adam Wainwright (2000, Atlanta Braves, 38.3 WAR), RHP Bill Swift (1983, Minnesota Twins, 20.6 WAR), and RHP Dave Kingman (1967, California Angels, 17.2 WAR). Coral Springs HS has produced seven draft picks throughout history, but Brinson is the only one who has made it to the major leagues so far. RHP Max Lazar was chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th round in 2017.
Brinson has had his struggles since joining the Miami Marlins, but his ceiling is that of an all-star center fielder. As summarized by mlb.com:
"Brinson’s offensive ceiling is tantalizing, as he projects for an average bat with at least above-average power that could make him an annual 20-plus-homer threat at the highest level. He made considerable strides in his approach in 2017, as better plate discipline and pitch recognition resulted in improved on-base skills and fewer strikeouts. Brinson’s speed represents yet another plus tool and translates on the basepaths as well as in the outfield, where he’s spent the bulk of his time in center. He’s likely better suited for right field long term, where his above-average arm strength is a clean fit."
Brinson worked his way up through the Rangers system until mid-2016. On his way, he was selected as an Arizona League All Star and a Rookie League All-Star in 2012. In 2015, he was on the Minor League High-A All-Star Team, and was also that season chosen as Baseball America’s 1st team Minor League All-Star at center field. On August 1st, 2016, the Rangers traded him to the Brewers with Luis Ortiz and a player to be named later for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress.
In 2017, Brinson slashed .331/.400/.562 in 76 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, in the triple-A Pacific Coast League. For his efforts, he was named to the Triple-A All-Star Team. He also played in 21 games for the Brewers, slashing just .106/.236/.277.
Miami Marlins Acquisition
Famously, Brinson was included in the Miami Marlins Christian Yelich deal. Brinson came over to the Marlins organization with three other probable future major leaguers, namely Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto. Soon afterward, Brinson revealed that he had grown up idolizing the Florida Marlins. He held no Marlin in higher regard than former leadoff hitter Juan Pierre. Brinson got a chance to meet Pierre very soon after his acquisition:
The initial expectation for Brinson after his acquisition was a great glove and arm in the outfield, and a power threat at the plate. Although he has shown flashes of his potential, his results thus far have been underwhelming.
Defensively, Brinson led the National League with nine outfield errors, and that’s despite missing nearly two months with a bum hip. His occasional fielding clumsiness was somewhat offset by his circuit leading 2.74 range factor.
Brinson indirectly caused San Francisco Giants closer Hunter Strickland to break his hand in mid-June. Instead of regaling you with the entire story, I’ll just leave this here to refresh your memory:
Despite hitting safely in only half of the games in which he appeared in 2018 (54-of-107), Brinson did collect 16 multihit games through the campaign. On April 19th, Brinson provided all of Miami’s offense with two homers for three RBI in a 12-3 loss to the Brewers. On June 18th, he hit a single, a double, drew a walk, scored a run and knocked another in to defeat the Giants by a 5-4 final (see above). On September 7th, Brinson hit a single, a double and a homer with three RBI in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Marlins posted a 44-65 record in games in which Brinson appeared for a .404 winning percentage. When he didn’t play, they were 19-33 for a mark of .365. Although at first blush that would appear to indicate a mostly positive impact on the lineup, Brinson registered a WAR below replacement level, finishing at -0.1 for the season.
Through the season, Brinson slashed .198/.239/.338 with 11 homers and 42 RBI. He drew 17 walks in 403 plate appearances, versus 120 strikeouts. That’s a 4.2 percent walk rate, a 29.8 percent whiff rate, and 7.06 strikeouts per walk. These numbers need to climb north. His per-plate-appearance metrics ranked last amongst qualified Marlins in every category.
The Numbers Under the Main Numbers
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In contrast to his actual statistics, Brinson’s (x) statistics paint a brighter picture. He puts the barrel on the ball 8.8 percent of the time, half-again the NL average of 6.1, and his velocity off the bat is 2.2 MPH higher than circuit average. What’s killing Brinson’s power numbers is his average launch angle of 7.1 percent (league average is 10.9). Brinson’s XBA/WOBA/XSLG slashline shows that he suffered from more than his share of bad luck, at .224/.245/.415. Brinson also hits the ball hard more often than others. The average major league batted ball is “hard hit” 34.1 percent of the time, but off Brinson’s bat, the percentage is 39.5.
Brinson was noticeably more competent in his plate approach after his return from the disabled list in early September, and should continue that improvement into 2019. I’m not saying he’ll be an all-star next season, but he won’t have the worst slashline on the team again.
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