Since May 31st, 2021 the Seattle Mariners have been without our brightest and more unexpected star, Kyle Lewis. I naively assumed that absence would make the heart grow fonder, looking forward to heated Twitter debate on the best plays he made or the best home run he hit, but how wrong I was. No sooner was the comeback kid out for the season than the fair-weather fans began to turn on the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year. Many presumed with Kelenic and Rodrigez biting at the bit to get on the big league roster that Lewis was destined to be traded, more have complained about the length of time he's been out, and hundreds of supposed "fans" have taken to Twitter and been actively planning for a future without him. I refuse to stand for this rampant Kyle Lewis slander. Not only should we be all rooting for his quick and glorious return, I believe he is a key piece of this roster moving forward and an essential part of any playoff push in the future.
In 2020 Kyle Lewis finished the shortened season slashing a respectable .262/.364/.437 with 11 home runs, 34 RBIs, and an impressive 124 OPS+. Now for those of you who are less versed in advanced analytics, OPS+ is a comparison of how well you get on base and hit for power compared to the league average, anything over 100 is considered good, so putting up 124 OPS+ in a shortened rookie season is an indicator of very good things to come. For reference, Mitch Haniger put up a 122 OPS+ in 2021 while slashing .253/.318/.485. Now if Haniger can receive 1 MVP point with numbers like that imagine if he could have done that while providing plus center field defense and base running like Lewis.
Besides, the statistics though, I believe Kyle Lewis will be crucial to the team moving forward, especially when it comes to competing for a playoff spot. Lewis was an emotional spark for the Mariners and brought an air of fun and swagger back to the clubhouse along with guys like J.P. Crawford, Shed Long Jr., and Mallex Smith. However, in the time he has been out a great deal of people have dismissed Lewis. This is not the first time. People did the same thing when lewis suffered a near career-ending knee injury in the minor leagues.
Some apprehensiveness in his ability to stay on the field is absolutely warranted. However, throwing his name around in trade talks as if he can easily be replaced by Kelenic or Rodriguez -- guys who have not proven they can play centerfield much less hit in the major leagues -- is a bridge too far. There's no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect, and having a proven product with defensive and offensive upside like Kyle Lewis is incredibly valuable. I think it's more than likely he factors in as an everyday centerfielder for the Mariners sometime soon.
Kyle Lewis will be back at some point in 2022. The talent and the statistics show he can have an impact, and the Mariners have the room to let KLew put all you haters to shame.