When you compare the info from the older cards to the newer cards, you see a natural progression. There seems to be more professionalism, better information and a subtle sense of “stat-geek” influences with the new cards. Of course, in today’s modern world it is much easier to edit things and gather information.
Still, I like the neatness of the Fred Lewis card…the card calls his career highlights “unique” because they are – they aren’t “great” or anything he really controls, just unique. The factoids are beautifully odd: Lewis hit safely in his first three at bats, his first homer was part of a cycle, his next two dingers were grand slams, and he stole home twice (the coolest thing besides flying jets).
This card is part of the 2010 Series I, which means it doesn’t include the tidbit that on April 15 he was traded to the Blue Jays for cash/player to be named. Clearly the Giants were willing to give up on the 29-year-old outfielder who had been a second round selection in 2002. It’s not exactly clear why. Set aside the fact that the Giants were not bursting with hitting talent, Lewis managed a useable (especially in the NL) slash line (.277/.355/.420) over 1,528 plate appearances. Not surprisingly, Lewis would post a .262/.332/.414 line in the AL. Given the harder competition it makes sense that he’d hit a bit worse in the harder league.
However, the bizarre thing about this is the decision to trade Lewis for, essentially, nothing. He had done all those cool things — stole home, hit grand slams, hit for the cycle and was decidedly useful. The Giants would use Aaron Rowand (331 ABs), Nate Schierholtz (227 ABs) and an assortment of other players in a spot that Lewis could have manned easily. Sure Lewis earned .8 WAR this year, but Rowand earned a negative WAR and Schierholtz earned just .2 WAR.
Maybe I’m a sucker for players who act like Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez, but I found it incredibly odd the way the Giants handled Lewis this year. At the very least, Lewis has had one of the most unique careers of any baseball player — and that is saying something.
For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.