Will the Kansas City Royals ever fill the hole at shortstop? For all of the defensive prowess of their latest name in the line-up in Alcides Escobar, the reality is that he's another poor hitting shortstop in a long line of poor hitting shortstops. Will they ever land someone who's not an automatic out at the plate? They could if they were willing to pony up for someone that FanGraphs' Brandon Warne says is possibly available: Jed Lowrie of the Boston Red Sox.
Lowrie had a down year and more injury concerns in 2011, but a good hitter who can play shortstop is such a rarity that it's worth a discussion. And Warne notes that new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is not going to look too much at his down year and allow him to go too cheaply.
"Astute general managers will want to buy low on Lowrie after a rough 2011, but Cherington no doubt is wise to the pratfalls that limited Lowrie through his difficult season. For one, a nagging left shoulder injury might be to blame for Lowrie’s uncharacteristic platoon splits. For instance, Lowrie’s 2011 splits showed an .876/.582 split (versus RHP/LHP), which are well below his career marks of .919/.635. Given that Lowrie’s seen fewer than 1,000 plate appearances, spread over four big-league seasons, I think it’s somewhat reasonable to file the huge splits under the statistical-noise header. After all, despite these drastic splits in the major leagues, Lowrie’s minor-league splits aren’t nearly as discrepant. Perhaps with regular playing time, Lowrie’s numbers might have an opportunity to even out."
Warne also notes that for those willing to pay the price, they will be duly rewarded.
"The projections for Lowrie are glowing, especially if Bill James is to be trusted. James projects Lowrie as .271/.348/.437, which would be good for a .341 wOBA. For some context, that would have ranked sixth in the AL in 2011 among shortstops with 250-plus PA. Not bad for an extra tool lying around in the ol’ shed. I’m no mathemagician, but assuming average glovework from Lowrie — to go with that wOBA — he could project to be about a four-win shortstop. And that’s something that makes hefty cash on the open market."