Spring Storyline: Does Lewis Brinson’s Strong Start Mean He’s Figured It Out?

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Things got so bad for Lewis Brinson, a once highly hyped prospect, that he spent significant time at Triple-A in ’18 to try and work out the issues.  While Byron Buxton has gotten more hype this spring, Brinson has gotten off to an equally impressive start:

.444 (4-9), 3 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB

As we always say, no one is basing anything off of a handful of AB.  That said, could Brinson’s hot start be more telling than Buxton’s?

That’s hard to justify, as it’s not like Brinson returned in September and thrived (.239 with 1 HR and 12 RBI over 92 AB).  He particularly struggled with his approach in the Majors, posting a 17.1% SwStr% and 37.5% O-Swing% last season.  Considering a 10.2% SwStr% over 340 PA at Triple-A in 2017 it’s possible that he improves, though not necessarily enough to make a difference considering how bad he was against non-hard pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 13.80%
  • Breaking Ball – 23.04%
  • Offspeed – 26.28%

Last season 8 of his 11 HR came against pitches that would be labeled as hard (5 against fourseam fastballs, 2 against sinkers and 1 against a cut-fastball).  As we noted with Buxton, this early in the spring it’s likely that he’s not seeing many non-fastballs and he’s taking advantage.

While he has hit one home run against a strong MLB pitcher, that’s about it thus far:

  • Nick Burdi
  • Steven Matz
  • Walker Lockett

It’s been a nice start and his performance is a good story, but until he maintains it deep into the spring (as starting pitchers round into shape) it’s hard to believe.  Don’t start buying into the hype, and instead consider him nothing more than a late round flier who could put it together (but is hardly a given).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

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