I like Jeff Keppinger. I liked it when they acquired him, was disappointed when he got hurt in spring training, and am thrilled to see him developing into a guy who can underline the stupidity of the Castro, and to a less extent Ryan Freel, contract extensions.

But there’s a great deal of irrational exuberance surrounding Keppinger. Trent Rosecrans has a UGa-crush on Kepp. John Fay’s talking about playing him at first base. And I’m sure WLW callers are sporting metaphorical woodies. Obviously, the .356/.430/.515 line is the main part of it. The high socks help, as do the rest of his Woody Woodward 2.0 looks.

I’ve been worried that we’re getting over-excited about a hot 100 ABs. Kepp’s minor league numbers don’t remotely indicate a guy who’s going to SLG .515 (or .542, where he was last week). In 2150 minor league ABs, he hit .320/.373/.419. (I’d be thrilled with those numbers, by the way. Just not at 1b, 3b, or LF.)

Keppinger-mania was reminding me of some recent pan-flashers, like Chris Stynes, Jon Nunnally, and Alex Ochoa. All of these guys raked when they first joined the Reds, and all were irrationally shoehorned into the Reds long-term plans, only to disappoint dramatically when they resumed their true level. (Side note: Will Dave Ross join this list?)

But it was Brian‘s list that showed Keppinger as having the 8th-best OPS season by a Red since 1995 (min. 100 PA), which really turned on the light for me. Check out this mystery infielder:

First season as a Red (age 25): .339/.407/.480

Minor League Career (2300 AB): .275/.334/.408

MLB Career totals: .262/.312/.380

Do you know who that guy was? No, not Mitch Cumstein. Mark Lewis.

Again, I like Jeff Keppinger. But I liked Lewis, too.