Lewis, the reigning and unanimous American League Rookie of the Year Award recipient, had been sidelined since May 31 because of a torn meniscus in the same knee. In 36 appearances this season, he’d hit .246/.333/.392 (106 OPS+) with five home runs and 21 more strikeouts than walks in 147 trips to the plate. Last year, he hit .262/.364/.437 (124 OPS+) with 11 home runs in 242 plate appearances.
Lewis will now enter his age-26 season in a familiar predicament: hoping to bounce back from an injury-plagued campaign. Since being drafted in 2016, he’s suffered numerous knee-related maladies that have limited his availability. Indeed, he’s appeared in more than 90 games in a season just once, with that coming in 2019. (He did come close in 2018, finishing with 86 appearances.)
The Mariners, who will presumably look to make a splash this offseason, have the unenviable task of attempting to calculate how much they can rely upon Lewis heading forward. There’s no questioning his talent, as he offers a dynamic power-speed combination, yet the Mariners have to be realistic about his track record. To make matters more complicated, the Mariners also have to contend with the struggles of rookie center field Jarred Kelenic. Seattle does have Mitch Haniger under control for an additional season, and should debut Julio Rodríguez next spring. (Seattle also has Jake Fraley and Taylor Trammell in-house.)
The Mariners entered Tuesday with a 75-63 record, putting them three games back of the Boston Red Sox for the American League’s second wild card spot. Should the Mariners fall short of the playoffs, they’ll be left to wonder what might have been had Lewis been able to return and nudge Jake Bauers from the lineup.