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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Lewis Brinson

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Will the projected future Marlins star show his true potential in Year 2?

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Photo by @Marlins/Twitter

The projected centerpiece of the upcoming Marlins’ core, Brinson boasts all of the tools and minor league success needed to be considered Miami’s next star. In 2019, his job will be to take the tools, projectability, minor league success, and generalize it to the major league level. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, believes that Brinson will do just that.

In a year of continued growth as an organization, where a faction of fans may wonder what Marlins Park has to offer them, Lewis Brinson is one of the answers. Brinson’s 2018 campaign left a lot to be desired, but nothing would erase the doubts quicker than a breakout 2019 season.

How did he get here? Traded from Brewers to Marlins on January 25, 2018

2018 MLB Stats: .199/.240/.338, 11 HR, 62 OPS+ in 109 G

2019 ZiPS Projection: .217/.269/.372, 13 HR, 76 OPS+ in 113 G

Photo by @Marlins/Twitter

Brinson is no newcomer to the spotlight. A consensus Top 100 prospect from 2016 until his 2018 graduation from prospect status, this article is most assuredly not the first time he has been labeled as the future centerpiece of a baseball organization and city.

With that being said, as a South Florida product, it could be speculated that there is an added amount of pressure to fulfill that promise with the franchise he grew up rooting for. For better or for worse, the Marlins have not shied away from promoting Brinson to the city of Miami. From the release of #OurColores, to being consistently active on the Marlins social media accounts, the time for Lewis Brinson to begin making his mark in this city has arrived.

Miami will know about Lewis Brinson by the time the 2019 season is done; the question is what they will be saying while they sip their cafecitos and talk about whether the Marlins are back on track.

What can we expect from his 2019 season?

We begin with the 2019 projections that were listed above. Although projected improvement is seen across the board, the formula does not present many favors to “Sweet Lew.” The first limitation is in games played, which must be tactfully interpreted, as projection measures are most heavily influenced by most recent playing time (Brinson only played in 109 games due to a midseason hip injury). Nonetheless, the aspiration should be for Brinson to play closer to 150 games than the 113 that is currently projected.

Moreover, the algorithms tend to heavily weigh the most immediate year—2018—as most influential. This hurts Brinson when we consider that he was dealing with significant physical limitations and clearly misstepped some hurdles while adjusting to a new level of pitching.

If you were to use the same projections, but only incorporate his numbers from after he returned from his injury as the sample, we suddenly see a much more hopeful 2019. Nonetheless, this sample is too small and would be ignoring the bigger picture of the previous season.

Projections aside, there are positive elements from 2018 that Brinson can continue building upon. Namely, his power production. Of active Marlins, Brinson was second on the team in home runs per at-bat, hitting a home run in approximately every 34 official at-bats. J.T. Realmuto was first, hitting one per every 22. By the time you are enjoying this article, the All-Star catcher may have been traded, meaning that Brinson would be the returning leader in home runs per at-bat. Even when nothing else is going his way, that threat of singlehandedly putting runs on the board is always present.

Moving to another facet of his game, Brinson produced +3 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) during his time in center field for the Marlins. Although this mark is considered above league average, there is also healthy reasoning to believe that we should see Brinson’s DRS skyrocket as he continues to develop and adjust to Marlins Park. The newly renovated green ivy as the Marlins Park backdrop may not influence his performance, but for the pleasure of the viewing fan, it will make his highlight plays that much more beautiful to see.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

In brief, there were two elements of Brinson’s 2018 campaign which should instill hope for 2019; his independent power production and above average fielding. Both are crucial elements of today’s era of baseball and welcomed signs in an otherwise inconsistent first (on-field) impression to the skeptics. The hope is that Brinson builds off of these two elements and begins developing a consistent approach, allowing for his power to produce at an even better level.

Health, a full year under his belt in a new organization, and his continued work ethic should make for an exciting 2019 campaign. Lewis Brinson is the projected future star of the Marlins and the City of Miami for a reason. The hope is that Miami begins to see why in this upcoming year.


Over/Under 16.5 home runs for Lewis Brinson this season?

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