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Where Jed Lowrie ranks since his return to the Red Sox and what happens next

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 21, 2011 02:49 PM

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ANAHEIM, Calif. Jed Lowrie came off the disabled list last July 21. He has played 68 games since then, starting 53 of them, and has 238 plate appearances.

That's about a third of a season for an everyday player, but still a decent sample size. Here's how he ranks in Major League Baseball for players with at least 200 plate appearances:

Batting average: 13th at .319

On-base percentage: 15th at .399

Slugging percentage: 11th at .567

OPS: 9th at .966

The only players with a higher OPS than Lowrie since he returned to the majors are Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome.

That's a very elite group, to be certain. But a few caveats:

104 of Lowrie's plate appearances came from Sept. 1 to Oct. 3 last season. The Red Sox were eight games out of first place when the month started and were essentially playing out the string.

Evaluating players in September is tricky business because of the expanded rosters and varying degrees of determination among those on the field. Lowrie had a lot more to prove than many of those he was competing against.

Lowrie's stats are heavily skewed by the unreal hot streak he is on. He is hitting .531.545/.875 in his last nine games. Even Lowrie acknowledges how silly his stats have been the last two weeks. His batting average on balls in play is .583. You have a better chance of hitting the lottery every day for a week than you do keeping that up.

That said, good players go on sustained hot streaks, that's what makes them good players.

Lowrie has had a fractured career to date because of a lingering wrist injury then a bout with mononucleosis that wiped out three months at the start of last season. But this is still a player who was the 45th overall pick of the 2005 draft and won the Pac-10 Triple Crown as a sophomore at Stanford. This is his chance to show the Red Sox he can be an everyday player.

Lowrie's terrific showing at the plate has led to a bunch of e-mails and Twitter messages from fans asking what will happen next. Will he become the full-time shortstop? Will the Sox move him to another position? Is Jose Iglesias now expendable?

Having too many good players is never a problem and invariably these things sort themselves out. The next team that failed because it had too many good players will be the first one.

For now, Terry Francona will keep Lowrie in the lineup, find ways to get Marco Scutaro in there from time to time and ride the wave.

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