Currently, Jed Lowrie is going as the 16th shortstop or 17th second baseman in Yahoo! leagues. This is the third hitter on a playoff team who played a full season last year with a high average and solid power production, and as I previously alluded to, is eligible at two of the notoriously weakest hitting positions in the game.
A .290/.344/.446 line with 15 homers, 80 runs, and 75 RBI is pretty great for the first time we’ve been able to see Lowrie in a full season. His power obviously dropped down a bit as he moved to Oakland, but he sacrificed some walks for more contact and posted an excellent all around offensive season. One area he has not contributed is stolen bases, so in drafting Lowrie you have to be looking to fill in that void at other positions. You hate to get absolutely no stolen base help from a middle infield spot, but if I had to go with Lowrie or an Andrelton Simmons in a redraft league I’m picking Lowrie.
I don’t love Lowrie to be the next great middle infielder, but I do think there is a certain value in him that is being massively overlooked by many. Last year the one player I wanted on all of my teams was Matt Carpenter, but that was before a breakout. This year a guy I am confidently buying at his current draft spot is Lowrie, and his low draft spot gives you the ability to hedge against the always relevant injury risks he faces.
Carpenter had an unbelievable season, hitting .319 with 11 home runs and an astonishing 126 runs scored. Most of his value is tied to the average and runs scored. Let’s take a look at what ZiPS thinks of both of them and see where we think the better value is.
Carpenter: 150 games, .272/.351/.413, 10 home runs, 79 runs, 69 RBI, 4 SB
Lowrie: 119 games, .263/.324/.422, 13 home runs, 56 runs, 54 RBI, 1 SB
Drafting Lowrie 140 picks later in the 18th round along with a potential backup for when he gets injured seems like it would be far more valuable than going with Carpenter in the 5th, and you will not find many people who are bigger overall Matt Carpenter fans than me.
Many fantasy writers and industry folk have alluded to the value of having a player that can produce but is expected to miss time combining with a replacement. It’s a solid strategy when looking for late draft value. Guys like Lowrie are perfect for that type of investment. You are drafting him so late that were anything to happen to him, you could drop him without issue if your roster has limited bench and disabled list spots. It’s an ultimate low investment situation that can pay great dividends, and you are able to even make that investment after seeing what Lowrie could do in a standard full season.
It is not as if his batted ball profile screams regression or that he had some type of bloated career year. He played during a healthy 29-year-old season and improved in areas you would like to see players improve. Draft Lowrie with confidence at second base or shortstop and be happy that you were the one willing to take him a bit earlier than the average drafter.
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