Moving Lewis to the third spot will free him to swing with abandon.
From Chris Haft's 3/8/09 piece "Lewis ready to slug from third spot" on the team website.
Lewis did what was required from him last season, ranking fourth in the National League by averaging 4.23 pitches per plate appearance.
Does the number of pitches per plate appearance correlate with hitting? That is, do guys who see a lot of pitches have higher batting averages, slugging percentages, and on-base percentages? When I see a stat like that I think (1) who is ahead of him? and (2) what is the league rate?
Intuitively, it would seem that good hitters see more pitches. In order to get a walk, you have to see 4 pitches, which is higher than the league average (3.81 in 2008 for the NL--stat from THT team pages). We all watched Bonds take pitches, and many of the big sluggers (McGwire, Frank Thomas, Jack Clark) also walked a lot.
But is there are correlation? The Giants seem to believe that taking pitches is good in the leadoff spot and bad in the three-hole. Is that the case? Certainly Fred Lewis struck out a lot last year. It would be nice to see more hits and fewer called third strikes. But patience and selectivity seem like important qualities in your "best hitter" (Lansfordian for no. 3 guy).
. . . if he's going to hit third, we need him to hit home runs . . .
I can't argue with that, Carney. But what made Lewis a guy to get excited about last year, at least for me, was his cerebral approach. He seemed to make a conscious effort to learn the strike zone and learn the umpires. It seemed like he was taking the long view--that he would be a better hitter down the road if he took a few more pitches. I guess the road has come to an end in 2009. He's "da man" now, and will have to provide our dink-dink-dink lineup with some pop. I'm confident he will show improvement and continue to impress. He's a bona fide major-league starter now, and the team expects a lot from him. I hope he continues to be Fred, though. We've already got Bengie "how-quickly-can-I-get-this-AB-over-with" Molina. I'd like to at least get a sip of brew in when my "big hitters" come to the plate.