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Lowrie v. Lugo

I was reading an article yesterday (inexplicably archived now and unavailable after only one week) in the Boston Herald (diversity of sources folks) which contained a really interesting observation: Julio Lugo has the best on base percentage of any starting shortstop in the American League. Check it out here.

Lugo is batting .268 with a .355 OBP. Jed Lowrie is ahead of him, but he's officially (officially?) sitting for Julio - Lowrie's batting .310 with a .368 batting average. On the other hand, I don't think we can count on Lowrie to be a .310 major league 6th-spot hitter all year.

The obvious difference between the two is Lowrie's real-deal pop. Something happened to Lugo since he left Tampa Bay and he left his power in the dome. Lowrie's slugging percentage is .468 while Lugo's is a painful .330. Lowrie's 29 RBIs in less than half the plate appearances it took Lugo to get 22 is the statistical talk of the town. Lowrie hit a ball a few weeks ago against Oakland for a triple which was just crushed. With any loft that's in the stands in center, in Fenway. I have never said that about Lugo.

Additionally, Peter Gammons wrote in a recent Globe online Q&A: "one national league team that does defensive ratings like Red Sox and Indians has Lowrie's defense ranked 5th among the 62 major league shortstops. I might add that Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes were in the 40's."

At the risk of being struck by lightning because of the hubris of questioning a living god, I think Gammons and his scout buddy go a bit too far with this. My guess is that the fact that Lowrie has not made a single error in his 24 games at short really skews the statistics. Yes, he deserves a great deal of credit for not making an error, but I bet statistically he will shoot down the rankings once be breaks that seal, which he will do. Also, according to the range factor stat (which I do not trust but which I bet is in that scout's analysis), Lowrie has more range than Lugo (4.10 to 3.70). Most people seem to think Lugo has the superior range - Lowrie's liability was supposed to be his range and glove.

My point? Who says I have to have one. It's my damned blog.

I did begin thinking about this post seeking to debate what is now an arguably moot point since Lowrie's batting average has shot up. Anyway, here it is for the sake of argument: if Lowrie has more RBIs and almost no errors, but Lugo gets on base more and covers more ground, why is it that we all know we want Lowrie as the starting shortstop? The obvious answer is that his slugging is great (only behind the Royal's super-surprise Mike Aviles and J-HHonny Peralta in the AL). Any other thoughts? Can I get a saber-disciple to admit RBIs matter?

Side note: I like his holiness Peter Gammon's idea of using Lugo as a super-sub the rest of this year and even the next few years if he'll take it. The Sox have him under contract for two more years after this one. He can play every position on the field and you could do worse as a back up bat. I'm doubtful he'd take it, but I think that that versatility is the only way that the now 33 year old Lugo is still in the majors at 37.


Anonymous said…
For some irrational reason I have a soft spot for Lugo. That said, as I do realize that Lowrie is our future, I hope Lugo WILL agree to a supersub role if that's what it comes to. I've already seen one favorite bid farewell to Fenway this season (Manny) and would hate to lose another.

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