Mike Lowell was the proud winner of the All-Aughts Team of the Decade honorable mention at 30 percent of the vote, and its easy to see why. After all, Lowell not only has provided above-average offensive seasons each year he wore the Boston uniform (and sans 2009, excellent fielding seasons) but his character is off the charts and he nabbed the 2007 World Series MVP award.
Lowell came to Boston after being exiled from Florida following a year where he posted an obscene (in a bad way) .658 OPS, showing no ability to make contact and a lack of power. For the Red Sox to get ace Josh Beckett, Lowell was forced upon them. No one seriously thought Lowell would be worth his salt despite it being just one year.
Lowell found Fenway Park to his liking in 2006 albeit on a team that collapsed late and missed the playoffs. His 47 doubles were a career high, and he set a career high the following year in a different category: RBI. That was the year of 2007, when Lowell stepped up amongst injury and attrition — 31 games batting fourth, 17 fifth and 101 sixth — and became a feared middle of the order hitter. His doubles sank to 37, but he popped 21 home runs and hit .324, the first and only time his batting average has been over .300 in a season.
2008 saw his batting average tumble to .274, but he was still providing solid offense, defense and leadership. (Fire Brand archive: Mike Lowell under the radar, on pace for over 100 RBI, 7/24/08.) Following 2008, however, Lowell was mired in trade rumors with the possibility of Mark Teixeira. He refused to hold a grudge, but had to undergo hip surgery in October of that year– a similar surgery to Alex Rodriguez. The surgery was risky, to repair a torn labrum, but Lowell came back in 2009 strong — at least offensively.
Lowell’s .290/.337/.474 line in 484 at-bats showed he wasn’t done yet, and is far from being done. (Fire Brand archive: How good of a player is this Mike Lowell character?, 5/4/09.) However, his hip surgery took away all his mobility and ability in the field, which gave him the dishonor of being baseball’s worst fielding third baseman, according to UZR over 150 games.
Earlier this offseason, Lowell was thought to be headed to Texas in exchange for catcher Max Ramirez (Fire Brand archive: Lowell to Texas, Beltre to Boston… And a Cherry Named Maximiliano, 12/10/09.) but the trade was scuttled when it was learned Lowell had to undergo surgery on his right thumb. Now, his future is clouded in doubt. This is the second straight year Boston has tried to trade Lowell, plus with the signing of Adrian Beltre, there is nowhere for Lowell to play. (Fire Brand archive: One $9 Million Question Answered, One More Arises, 1/06/10.)
But when he did play in Boston, he was great. He became a valuable piece of the 2007 World Series champion team and provided production each year he was with the club during the decade. In Boston, Lowell’s line is .295/.350/.479 over 2,236 at-bats, 75 home runs and 140 doubles. His career OPS at Fenway Park is .874, and there’s no doubt he always found home cooking to be the best, constantly getting friendly with the Green Monster.
While Dave Roberts’ stolen base will always live in infamy, Mike Lowell made a greater impact on Boston over four seasons and was one of the more important components to a World Series team. His honorable mention placing him among the decade’s greats is well deserved.