The Dodgers are in dire need of an immediate scoring boost, primarily from the infield. If they do look to make a move, there is a player out there that would profile perfectly.
The first three innings on Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds perfectly depict the story of the Dodgers’ season through the first quarter-or-so games of the year. They had a total of nine baserunners through the first third of the game but only brought one home. And that was the only run they scored that night.
The stranded the bases loaded twice, which has become the norm, along with struggling with men on base in general. They are hitting .250 with runners in scoring position on the season, and it has been even worse recently.
Runs have come at a premium, and getting guys on base has led to a lot more letdowns than anything to celebrate. It has been a complete 180 from 2017 like many things have.
The remedy is not to make a big splashy move for someone like a Manny Machado. However, if management does feel that they need to make a move eventually, it should be for someone more low-key, like Jed Lowrie of the Oakland A’s.
Why do you ask? Well because he has been absolutely raking this season. He is hitting .338/.400/.579 with eight home runs through 36 games and 160 plate appearances. Even with these numbers, he is no superstar by any means.
He is a 34-year-old with a career .749 OPS that has battled injuries throughout his career. He has only played over 150 games twice since his debut in 2008 and over 100 games just thrice. But there is no doubt that when healthy, he has been an above-average offensive producer. And he has been having somewhat of a career resurgence the last season-plus.
He had a .808 OPS for Oakland in 2017 while hitting 14 home runs and setting a franchise record with 49 doubles. And this year, he has taken his game to another level.
There is pause for concern on whether or not he can keep up this pace. Smart money says he cannot. He has an abnormally high .383 BABIP (ask Chris Taylor about high BABIPs) coupled with a significant increase in his groundball rate and a decrease in fly balls. Speaking of which, his 18.6% HR/FB is almost three times as high as his career average, and an unsustainable number for a non-power hitter.
But just because he probably won’t be keeping this up does not mean he can be an excellent contributor. He is making a lot of hard contact that is significantly higher than his career average. So it is easy to see why he is having such great success and sustain most of it.
But barring an unexpected breakout season at the age of 34, his OPS will probably drop to somewhere in the neighborhood of mid-.800s, which would still be very good, and something the Dodgers can desperately use, especially at second and third base.
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Second and third have been the team’s least productive positions on offense. Second base has a collective .583 OPS, and third has a .613 OPS. And, just by chance, Lowrie has experience all over the infield, except for catcher.
He is full-time second baseman now, with his days at the hot corner and short seemingly behind him. But Justin Turner will be returning eventually, so they will mainly need Lowrie at second.
And being a switch-hitter has helped him hit off both right-handed and left-handed pitching, meaning there would not be a need to platoon him. But perhaps the best part about him is his .350 average with runners in scoring position and .500 in high leverage situations.
The infielder would serve as a massive boost for a reeling offense and would provide a significant upgrade over the likes of Kike Hernandez, Logan Forsythe, Max Muncy, etc.
The A’s are currently in playoff contention, meaning they are not in sell-mode. But being a young and rebuilding team, they might taper off, sending the franchise into selling off their veterans.
And at 34 years old with highly regarded SS-2B prospect Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings, Lowrie may not be in the franchise’s long-term plans, so the front office might want to cash in on an old and soon-to-be free agent.
Lowrie would be the perfect trade because his age and contract status will lower the asking price for a highly productive player. He is not a flashy name or player, is versatile on defense, would add a spark to a reeling offense, and would not move Los Angeles over the luxury-tax threshold. We just have to wait to see how the A’s season goes on.