What is the first thing that you think of when Jed Lowrie’s name is brought up?
Is he a guy who has battled injuries and still yet to blossom or is Lowrie a guy that will turn out to be a first-round bust? Most Red Sox fans I talk to about Lowrie shrug him off or laugh at the notion of him having any real impact in Boston.
Lowrie was a first-round pick out of Stanford and showed serious promise in the Red Sox minor league system, but battled a wrist injury, mononucleosis and some hard luck at the major league level. He has never truly established himself in Boston and as of now, he is mostly an afterthought.
I have touted Lowrie for a long time much to the dismay of my friends and readers alike. When Lowrie blasted the walk-off home run into the bullpen against Toronto, it quickly reminded Red Sox fans that this guy can and should be a legitimate Major League player.
Let us not forget that in Game 4 of the 2008 ALDS, it was Lowrie who singled in the bottom of the ninth inning giving the Red Sox a 3-2 victory and clinched the series over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
It has been said that once you demonstrate a skill, you always have it — even if it lies dormant. Lowrie has repeatedly shown throughout the minor leagues that he owns a professional skill set. For the fans that do not care or doubt this guy, I offer you this:
Jed Lowrie profile
Double-digit walk rate (Good plate approach)
Above-average power (Gap power, not HRs)
Solid contact rate in the minors (82%)
Can play multiple positions
Works deep into counts
Red Sox ML Quality Plate Appearances Award (August 2006)
Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Month (May 2007)
2007 Eastern League All-Star
2007 Sea Dogs Most Valuable Player
2007 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year
Red Sox ML Defensive Player of the Month (Aug/Sep 2007)
How can you not believe in that profile? Granted, he is a guy without a position, and if health is a skill, he is terrible at that — but we are talking about a player with pedigree who was developed by the Red Sox Minor League machine. This is a system that has brought you a cast of stars and superstars and will continue to do so. Think it over before you just write him off because of a tough run of luck and health during a critical initiation period.
At the Major League level, the second base position is filled by a MVP-caliber player in Dustin Pedroia. Obviously, this will not change for the foreseeable future. In reality, this is the position that I think Lowrie would be best suited for given his adequate, but limited, defensive value. Pedroia will be back in full-force come April and Lowrie will be without a spot on the diamond.
So where does he fit in? It is very possible that if the Red Sox fall out of contention, coupled with Pedroia’s injury, that Lowrie will see full-time ABs in an effort to showcase him for a trade. Rumors swirled earlier in July that he was going to be dealt to the San Diego Padres. If there is any truth to that idea, then a successful September may catapult Lowrie into a full-time job somewhere in the National League for 2011.
If he stays with the Red Sox, then one has to figure that Lowrie is destined to be a super-utility rotating between first, second, shortstop and third base.
Or perhaps the two-year bridge plan of Marco Scutaro-to-Jose Iglesias takes longer than expected and Lowrie could be asked to the extend the wooden planks of development and get the organization to their shortstop of the future.
Coming into the 2009 season, Lowrie was thought to be the shortstop. He came out of Spring Training hitting the ball well and was expected to fend off the infamous Julio Lugo for the starting gig.
One thing lead to another, Lowrie sucked, messed up his wrist and the shortstop job became a strange carousel between Lugo and Nick Green. (Fans loved Green too, which I never understood)
Many fans that I have spoken with feel like Lowrie will never amount to anything. Boston fans are really down on this guy. Some people think he cannot stay healthy enough and others think he’s just too much of a nerd to be a real ball player. While I can understand this to an extent, I still think back to when fans complained that Pedroia swung too hard and needed to “shorten up” and that Kevin Youkilis’ dramatic strikeout behavior, oversized chin and odd facial expressions would never endear him to fans. Both of those guys started hitting and suddenly all was forgotten.
If Lowrie fails to stay healthy then this entire skill-set is wasted and he will forever be buried amongst the first round has-beens like Craig Hansen, Andy Yount or Phil Dumatrait. If he can beat the injury bug, then I think you have a switch-hitting super-utility that can work the count, hit for gap power, grind at-bats and contribute when his number is called.
The problem is always going to be Lowrie’s health. If he cannot stay on the field, then we will always wonder “What if?”
Well, at least I will always wonder that. Everyone else will just tell me, “See? I told you he sucked!”