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2020 Marlins Season Review: Lewis Brinson

Lewis Brinson had another rollercoaster season, but performed better this year than in any of his prior campaigns.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins - Game Three Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Lewis Brinson entered the 2020 season having only a few more chances to impress everyone in Miami. He did get better, he did improve, but his performance was like a rollercoaster—full of ups and downs. Let’s take a look at Brinson’s campaign, his third as a Marlin.

Brinson’ MLB career stats | Baseball-Reference

Brinson’s 2020 began the same way he finished 2019: Cold as ice. He was off to a slow start of three hits in his first 28 at-bats, good for a .107 batting average and a .362 OPS. Ten of those 28 trips to the plate from August 4-23 ended up in a strikeout.

But suddenly it all started to click for him at the batter’s box. He became one of the Marlins’ hottest hitters. Across 24 games from August 25 to September 19, he registered a great .364/.375/.618 slash line (.993 OPS), thanks to 20 hits in 55 at-bats with five doubles and three home runs. In the cited period, he recorded 10 RBIs, 11 scored runs, and even three steals in three attempts.

That’s the kind of production the Marlins have long waited for from Brinson since they acquired him from the Brewers in a package for OF Christian Yelich back in 2018.

But unfortunately, it fell apart almost as quickly as it was built up. In the final days of the regular season, between September 20-27, Brinson collected only one single in 23 chances (.043). The 26-year-old outfielder drove in just one run, and struck out six times, though his BABIP in that span was a really low .059.

It depends on how you want to see it, but I think Brinson did much better than last year and that says a lot. Obviously, he underperformed once again, but at least was better than in his abysmal 2019.

Just take a look:

Year EV BA XBA SLG XSLG OPS Hard Hit%

2019 87.0 .173 .206 .221 .305 .457 32.9

2020 88.1 .226 .246 .368 .382 .636 36.8

Additional Stats

  • Brinson kept struggling against righties (.196/.224/.268/.492). He was much better facing lefties (.260/.315/.480/.795 while making more contact).
  • He saved FIVE runs playing in center field across only 44 innings. Among qualified center fielders, there were only seven men that accumulated at least that many this season: Cody Bellinger, Jackie Bradley Jr., Ramón Laureano, George Springer, Trent Grisham, Luis Robert, and Kevin Kiermaier. Brinson is the only CF in the history of Defensive Runs Saved to post at least 5 DRS in such a small sample single-season sample.
Fish Stripes original GIF
  • Despite his in-general low year, Brinson hit for a .804 OPS with runners in scoring position (.292 BA).

2021 Outlook

By now, I don’t know how many opportunities there are left for Lewis Brinson on a Marlins team that may be in the final stages of their rebuilding process, but I don’t think the Fish should block prospects to find playing time for him anymore.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be played—Brinson is a great defender at center field, is a good runner, and has proved he can hit against lefties. But he’s just had so many chances and, unfortunately, things haven’t panned out for him yet even after 231 games and 766 plate appearances as a Marlin.

The good thing is 2021 will likely be a 162-game season and the Marlins might need him at some point, especially if the designated hitter is implemented once again in the National League.

For Brinson, there have been good things and bad ones. We’ve seen how hot he can get when he’s focused, but with Corey Dickerson in left and Starling Marte cemented in center, Lewis’ only opportunity might come in right field, a position that’s up for grabs. What we do know is he needs to get the most out of the chances he receives in 2021.