Obscure Spotlight: Darren Lewis

darrenlewisIn parts of 13 Major League seasons, center fielder Darren Lewis collected a total of 342 RBI, mostly from the leadoff spot in the lineup. But Lewis made up for his lack of power by stealing bases and patrolling the outfield like a great champion. Despite winning just one gold glove in 1994, Lewis was one of the best defensive center fielders of his generation, and a highly underrated ballplayer.

So great was Darren Lewis as a defensive outfielder, that he broke the record for most consecutive games without committing error. The record, held before Lewis by Don Demeter, was 266  games in a row,  and by the time Lewis committed an error, a full year later,  on June 30, 1994, Lewis’ record was an incredible 392 consecutive errorless games! It was the first error of Lewis’ career, as the streak began four years earlier when he was a rookie.

Lewis was drafted by the Dodgers and Blue Jays in 1986-87, but went unsigned both years. Finally Darren was picked again by the Athletics in 1988, where he ultimately signed. Lewis  fast-tracked through the minors, making his Major League debut for Oakland in August of 1990. After that season, the A’s traded Lewis across the Bay to San Fransisco, where he achieved his greatest notoriety as a Major Leaguer.

For the Giants, Lewis stole 138 bases in parts of five seasons, including his 46-steal season in 1993, good for fourth in the National League. In his Gold Glove-winning 1994 campaign, Lewis led the NL in triples with nine.

Over the next few years, Lewis moved from Cincinnati to the White Sox to the Dodgers,  never really making a full-time role for himself, until December of 1997, when he signed with Boston. Lewis’ greatest hitting season came with the Sox in 1998, when he hit 8 home runs and gathered 63 RBI, while getting on-base at a solid .352 clip out of the lead-off spot.

Lewis’ production, however, and consequently his playing time, dropped off over the next few years. Eventually Lewis signed with the Cubs in 2002, after four years in a Red Sox’ uniform. That year the Cubs traded Lewis to the Pirates, but he elected to retire instead of reporting to the hapless Pirates. Good move on Lewis’ part, I say.

Lewis now coaches in the college ranks, at Cal State, near his hometown of Berkeley, California.


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