Lewis Brinson‘s time with the Miami Marlins is likely coming to an end.
The honeymoon, as they say, is over. Lewis Brinson was acquired with Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and pitcher Jordan Yamamoto for then-future National League Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich prior to 2018 Spring Training. A lot of people gave Derek Jeter and the new Miami Marlins ownership group a lot of flak for getting “essentially nothing” in return for Yelich, who has gone on to do great and powerful things in Milwaukee. We here at Marlin Maniac weren’t as quick to judge, but sometimes, what you see is what you get.
Brinson was more or less ordained as the Miami Marlins 2018 Opening Day center fielder, and he did club 11 home runs last season. He also underwhelmed in nearly every facet of his game. Billed as a power/speed guy, Brinson stole two bases in three attempts in 109 games through 2018, and hit just .199/.240/.338 in 406 plate appearances. Worse, he struck out 120 times while drawing only 17 walks. He also led the major leagues with nine outfield errors despite only playing in 2/3rds of the games.
Better after returning from a mid-season injury, Brinson was expected to shake it off and really take off this season for the Miami Marlins. In the 27 games between Opening Day and the end of April, Brinson slashed .197/.247/.263 – essentially the same as in the season past, only without the sporadic power. The Marlins wisely sent him down to the triple-A level, to continue to get game experience at a near-major league level with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League.
And to his credit, Brinson did pretty well for the triple-A club, hitting .270/.361/.510 with 16 homers and 16 stolen bases in 81 contests. Perhaps emboldened by this showing, the Miami Marlins called Brinson back to the mothership on August 5th.
In the 37 games since Brinson’s latest return, he hasn’t done anything to dispel the notion that he was a can’t-miss prospect who missed. He’s slashing an anemic .172/.233/.221 with 36 whiffs and eight walks in 134 plate appearances in that time. His fielding percentage has improved from .968 up to .973 year-over-year, but he’s still made four errors in the outfield to “lead” the Miami Marlins in that category.
Brinson has the reputation as a solid clubhouse guy, the type you want to build your team around. Every time I see Brinson interacting outside of the game, I’m proud that this guy is on my team. What happens between the baselines, however, is a different story. Once the game starts, Brinson can’t quite seem to get it right.
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The Miami Marlins have been ultra-patient with Brinson’s slow development. I believe that with any other ballclub, Brinson would have long since ceased to be a viable project. Even the Marlins need to admit that maybe Brinson won’t pan out in the long run. I don’t think the Marlins will keep Brinson past this season. After all, enough is enough. Over 600 plate appearances into his major league career and Brinson is two full wins below replacement level.
Maybe not. Maybe Brinson will catch fire over these last two weeks of the 2019 campaign – but even that may be too little, too late.
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