Monday, April 18, 2011
Putting Lowrie in perspective
By Jeremy Lundblad
There’s no getting around it: Jed Lowrie has caught fire.
Lowrie went 4-for-5 with a home run on Monday, raising his batting average to .516. During the just-completed homestand, Lowrie hit .625 (15-for-24). The rest of the Red Sox hit .246.
Consider just a few of Lowrie's accomplishments from the last week:
* On Monday, he became just the third Red Sox shortstop in the past 50 years with four hits, a home run and four RBIs in the same game. Lowrie joined Luis Aparicio (1971) and Nomar Garciaparra (1998).
* Lowrie has at least one RBI in each of his last five games, the longest streak for a Red Sox shortstop since Julio Lugo in 2007. It’s even more impressive when you consider Lowrie pinch-hit in one of those five games.
* His streak of three straight games with at least two runs scored is the longest for a Red Sox shortstop since Garciaparra in 2003 (also three straight). On Tuesday, Lowrie looks to become the first since Billy Klaus in 1957 to do it in four straight.
Lowrie’s torrid start is just the continuation of an excellent second half in 2010. After missing the first three months with mononucleosis, Lowrie returned to post a .907 OPS in the second half.
Combine that with his first 11 games in 2011, and you’ll find one of the best offensive middle infielders in the majors.
In 65 games, Lowrie is hitting .322 with 11 HRs, 33 RBIs and a .968 OPS.
Since the 2010 All-Star break, only Troy Tulowitzki (1.080) has a higher OPS among middle infielders.
In fact, regardless of position, only five AL hitters have a higher OPS in that span entering Monday night: Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera, Jim Thome, Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista.
Not bad company for a guy with an .808 career OPS in Pawtucket.
In a left-handed-heavy Red Sox lineup, the damage Lowrie was done against southpaws is particularly noteworthy.
Since returning last season, Lowrie is now hitting .386 with 7 HRs and a 1.142 OPS against left-handers. Only Tulowitzki (1.355) and Jay Bruce (1.158) have a higher OPS among those with at least 75 plate appearances over that span.
The Red Sox are currently in the middle of stretch in which they face six lefty starters in seven games.
Is he the everyday shortstop? For now, Lowrie has made it nearly impossible for Terry Francona to keep him on the bench.