2011 Projections: Jed Lowrie

Boston Red Sox Jed Lowrie is congratulated on hitting a 2-run homerun against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts October 3, 2010.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Jed Lowrie 2011 Projection

395 .273 .344 .410 .754  11 48  42 2

As the Red Sox 2010 season was winding down to a disappointing conclusion, the return and resurgence of Jed Lowrie was one of the bright spots.

The biggest issue with Lowrie going forward will be staying healthy, which has been quite a battle over the last two seasons. His wrist injury seemed completely healed in 2010 as he hit nine home runs in only 171 at-bats. That power output can be seen in a positive light, but it also was brought on by a fly ball rate of just over 54 percent, which over more at-bats would likely lead to a low AVG. More than likely, Lowrie’s fly ball rate would fall to under 50 percent over a full season, so don’t expect his 2010 home run pace or his .240 ISO — Ryan Howard had a .229 ISO in 2010 – to hold steady in the future.

Lowrie’s 14.6 percent strikeout rate in 2010 is another category likely to regress. By no means is Lowrie a high strikeout candidate, but at no point in his career has he held a strikeout rate as low as he did in 2010. Also, consider the small sample size of 171 at-bats. Does this mean that Lowrie can’t hit .290-.300? No, but based on his track record, a high AVG would seem unlikely.

On the positive side, Lowrie did a good job of being patient and drawing walks (12.7 percent walk rate). His OBP should be good, but not great given the likely rise in strikeout rate and slight regression in AVG.

Along with staying healthy, Lowrie will need to find his playing time. Marco Scutaro had an OK 2010 season, but given his age and yearly nagging injuries, he may need more time off in 2011. Lowrie can fill in there, but his arm strength doesn’t play great at shortstop. Third base is open as of today — Adrian Beltre has officially decided to try and cash in on his big 2010 season — and Lowrie has experience and the glove to play there. However, given the type of player he his, Lowrie wouldn’t meet the classification of a prototypical third baseman. The position Lowrie fits best in second, but that is kind of sort of taken at the moment.

Utility infielder? In many ways Lowrie would be very valuable in this role. However, that doesn’t exactly guarantee him a ton of playing time. Even if there were to be a scenario where Scutaro is no longer the everyday shortstop or the Sox can’t find a third baseman to replace Beltre, could Lowrie be counted on as an every day player? The answer at this point would have to be no. Given health issues and inconsistencies in his minor and major league numbers, it would be a huge leap of faith to think Lowrie can be a consistent everyday player over 150-plus games.

Make no mistake about it; Jed Lowrie is going to be a nice piece to the 2011 Red Sox puzzle, but he is no savior and he may just have more question marks than answers at this point in his career. A utility role would maximize his value, even in a possible split with Scutaro at short. Take his 2010 numbers with a grain of salt — and an understanding of small sample size — and look at Lowrie as a role player, not the next big thing.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Jed Lowrie

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

16 Responses to “2011 Projections: Jed Lowrie” Subscribe

  1. GreggB November 4, 2010 at 5:24 AM #

    I don't think it is fair to conclude that Lowrie is injury-prone. He doesn't have "nagging injuries", like a bad shoulder, bad back or injured knee. He had a fractured wrist (since healed, as shown by his strong offensive performance last summer) and he caught mono, from which he recovered and which virtually never recurs. The fact that these two came in sequence was unlucky, but it makes him no more injury-prone than any other ball player. Scutaro did a decent job at short, but personally I'd favor giving the starting job to Lowrie until and unless he plays himself out of it. He has a much better upside.

    • Darryl Johnston November 4, 2010 at 10:04 AM #

      I second this.

      • Gerry November 4, 2010 at 1:02 PM #

        Is thirding that a correct term? Nah, but I agree. This kid’s career was hijacked by his lingering wrist problem & mono, and unless the Sox have medical data to the contrary, IMO there is every reason for him to play a full season healthy. When he came up in ’08 he was already injured, but didn’t want to miss his chance, kept mum, and played through it until it actually broke. His recovery was delayed when the Sox recommended he rest it rather than repair it, which wasted a season.

        Rather than consider his total #’s, which included playing very hurt, it may be more accurate to add his early at bats from ’08, which were outrageously good, to the late 2010 AB’s, giving a somewhat larger sample size. Everything else is Not indicative of his hitting skills. In fact, the lower #’s from those bad times are actually a smaller sample size than his (nearly) healthy #’s.

        His hitting pedigree is a good one in addition to early ’08 and late ’10. In ’07 he was the Sox MiLB Offensive Player of the Year with clutch #’s. A baseball guru that I met at S.T. and have attended Sox series with in a couple of cities, watched Lowrie develop at Stanford, where he still holds all kinds of hitting records. Not to get over zealous, but his successes at Stanford, AA/AAA, and when relatively healthy at Fenway, plus maturing power, a cool head & sense of urgency, might indicate a higher AB, OBP, SLG, HR, RBI as he continues to hurt the monster in clutch situations over the course of a season. He has a lot to prove. Hopefully he is our 3b of the future.

    • Charlie Saponara November 4, 2010 at 11:48 AM #

      I specifically stayed away from using the term “injury prone” in the article. While his injuries aren’t of the “nagging” variety (i.e. Jose Reyes’ hamstrings), they have caused Lowrie to miss significant time for two straight seasons. He hasn’t played in over 130 games in a season since 2008 (58 GP in 2009 and 65 GP in 2010). Given the grinding nature of a baseball season and the fact that Lowrie has not gone through a full one in three years cannot be overlooked. We simply do not know how is body will hold up over 162 games.

      While I wouldn’t be opposed to letting Lowrie start the season as a regular, to count on him with no legit backup plan could hurt in the long run. Is Scutaro the backup plan? He signed on with the Sox to be the starter. How would that sit with him? If he is traded, what becomes option B? The Sox played most of last season with B options and missed the playoffs.

      I have a feeling that people are getting a little too excited over a nice 171 at-bat stretch by Lowrie to end the 2010 season. Regardless of injury, there are some negative factors to his numbers (as mentioned: fly ball rate, etc). How about the fact that he is a career .216 hitter from the left side of the plate, where he will get the majority of his at-bats?

      Does he have the upside to be a good player? Yes. Is he a potential .290/.380/.500, 20 HR bat? Don’t count on it.

      • GreggB November 4, 2010 at 2:48 PM #

        I remember Bill James in his blog in either 2008 or 2009 said something to the effect of "people don't understand what a good hitter Lowrie will be". Not an exact quote, just from memory. But I remember it, because James rarely comments on Red Sox players since he is on the payroll.

        I still disagree with your concern about injuries. Is Pedroia less of a sure thing for a full season now than we considered him to be a year ago (just because he got unlucky in 2010). Is Youk? I really don't think you can discredit a player for circumstances that have no likelihood of reoccuring. That is like saying someone that the fact that someone won the lottery last week makes them more likely to win again, because they have a history of winning lotteries.

        • Charlie Saponara November 5, 2010 at 9:49 PM #

          Agree to disagree. I’d still be worried about stamina due to two consecutive years of a ton of missed time, but don’t have data to back that up.

          Interesting note about Bill James though. His 2010 projection for Lowrie was:

          437 PA, 384 AB, .260/.350/.438, 9 HR, 2 SB, 55 R, 59 RBI, 12.1% BB%, 20.8% K%

  2. Dean November 4, 2010 at 2:08 PM #

    I know this post doesn’t pertain to the article, but when is this seasons fire brand going to be announced/decided? I think this year its pretty clear but that Beltre is deserving of the award. That’s if its solely based on an offensive position.

  3. Big Mike November 5, 2010 at 5:46 AM #

    I'm no Sawx aficionado, but have been a fan since Hobson, Burleson, & Remy were in the infield. Wonder why Charlie wrote about Lowrie after Youk, Paps, Drew, and Papi? One of those things is not like the others … Lowrie. I asked Charlie to cover him. Lowrie's underated. If he were in KC or Atlanta he'd be a very good 2B (bat & glove). But he's not Wally Pipping Pedroia and wouldn't the Sox play Youk at 3B before Lowrie (assumes Lars or a FA). MAYBE he supplants Scutaro, but it feels like Lowrie is more valuable to you guys as an Omar Infante type. Good stick. Good attitude. Versatile.

    • Gerry November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM #

      All of which says that Lowrie has plus value to the team, how “plus” and in what capacity still to be determined. IMO his versatility hurts his ability to land a starting job, which could be a mistake, as he has clearly demonstrated the skills to be an above average 3b and hitter (or 2b or SS or maybe 1b).

      However, your point about Youk at 3b and Lars at 1b is very interesting. Although the door to AGon seems to be opening more than expected, Lars’ history of needing time to adjust to the next level could make him ready to start at Fenway in 2011. He didn’t do badly with the bat, and he showed a very good glove in 2010. If a home grown youth movement is part of getting to the other side of the bridge, an IF of Lars, PD, Youk, Lowrie, Scooter might be better than thought possible just a few months ago.

      • B_isback November 11, 2010 at 5:29 PM #

        I see there are some still beating LA's drum. I thought he was already in the HOF. Wouldn't he now be second in line to Rizzo? I don't recall his claim to future stardom residing in his decent fielding ability at 1B. But I guess that's where he's at now.

  4. PASOX November 8, 2010 at 12:33 PM #

    How about the fact that he is a career .216 hitter from the left side of the plate, where he will get the majority of his at-bats?

    He hit righties better than lefties in the minors. His wrist injury reduced his lefty numbers a ton. Jed will make your projetions look bad IMO.

  5. Charlie Saponara November 8, 2010 at 5:05 PM #

    I get all the optimism here, being a Red Sox blog and all, but what do we really expect? .300/.380/.500 with 20 home runs? I could see Lowrie being an above average hitting 2B or SS in a good year, but his minor league slash is .284/.380/.445 with a 47.7 AB/HR rate, which = 10.5 HR over 500 AB.

    He'll be 27 in April of 2011 his 2010 numbers look a bit like a fluke — .292 BABIP given a 16% LD% and 54% FB% and 19 AB/HR. If he does in fact hit like did late in the 2010 season, there is no way his AVG/OBP will pan out.

    Just trying to be realistic about things here. Not every prospect becomes a star. Lowrie is going to be a fine ballplayer, especially with regards to OBP, I'm just not ready to count on him as being the answer to the Red Sox needs in 2011.

    • Matthew November 11, 2010 at 2:16 AM #

      The other side of the argument could be that because he missed basically 1 1/2 seasons with non-reoccuring injuries, the fact that he’s 27 has less barring because he has put less stress and workload on his body than say a normal 27 year old ball player that has played nearly every day. Just a theory.

    • B_isback November 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM #

      At 27, he's just entering his prime. The slash line isn't that bad. Look, Scutaro may be better statistically, but this kid is ready to put the injuries behind him. A slight drop off from Scutaro's production more than makes up for the cost savings. Personally I'd like to see what he can do over a full season, and with no animosity towarard Marco, I wouldn't miss him a bit. Just make sure we have a reliable utility IFer on the bench.

  6. Big Mike November 8, 2010 at 8:14 PM #

    PASOX, make the projections look too rosey?

  7. lone1c November 11, 2010 at 7:21 PM #

    With respect to his minor league line—I think we should all be happy to see him hit that every year. An .825 OPS in 2010 would have placed him behind only Tulowitzki and Ramirez, and would put him sixth amongst 2Bs.

    As for the “flukiness” of Lowrie’s numbers, they’re not completely ridiculous. In 2008, he still had a ridiculously low GB/FB ratio, and a much higher BABip. He also had much lower AVG/OBP numbers. We’re also forgetting that he’s a switch hitter—his BABip as a LHB was significantly below average, while his RHB numbers were slightly above average. So, assuming there’s regression to the mean on both sides, he could still easily produce a line like .280/.360/.480. And don’t forget the expansion of the bullpens at Fenway, which could easily add a few HRs to his total. (Think of it this way: he’s like Dustin Pedroia as a LHB, and Youkilis as a RHB.)

    Comparing him to Scutaro, moreover, right now Lowrie is the better option at shortstop, both offensively and defensively.