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Jed Lowrie wasn’t on the radar of many fantasy owners at the start of the season. He didn’t crack Baseball Prospectus’ Top 300 for 2017, and unless you play in the deepest of leagues he simply wasn’t a target. However, Lowrie is off to one of the best starts of his career. By ESPN’s Player Rater, he’s been the 15th-most productive second baseman this season. That level of production has started to gain Lowrie more attention from the fantasy community.

Over the past week, Lowrie’s ownership rate jumped from 19.3 percent to 33.5 percent in ESPN leagues. That was the ninth-largest percentage increase. Over at CBS, Lowrie saw a spike in ownership from 21 percent to 38 percent. In Yahoo’s latest “Transaction Trends,” he was the fifth most-added second baseman. It’s clear that Lowrie has become a player worthy of a closer look.

Maybe you find yourself in a position where you’re looking for some help in the middle infield. Is Lowrie worth investing in at this point? What are the chances he’s able to continue producing at this level? We’ll try and answer those questions in this week’s Buyer’s Guide.

The Good

Lowrie is currently hitting .300/.371/.483 for Oakland. At this rate, it would be the second-best offensive season of his career (2010 for Boston). His BA and OBP are both about 40 points higher than his career average, and his SLG is almost 80 points higher. Sure, his .333 BABIP is fueling some of this success, but are there additional reasons for Lowrie’s increased production?

There aren’t a ton of drastic changes in his profile at this point. He’s cut his ground-ball rate by 11 percent. This is one of the primary reasons he’s already hit six home runs. That total has him on pace for a career high. Similarly, he’s dropped his soft contact rate by 7 percent, which is spurring on the second-highest hard-hit rate of his career.

Lowrie is swinging a little less out of the zone, a little more inside of the zone, and his contact rate on swings in the zone is at a career high (92 percent). These are positive signs that help us to understand some of what is happening with Lowrie this season. However, the biggest surprise is his platoon splits.

Here are Lowrie’s platoon splits for his career:

BA

OBP

SLG

RHB

.281

.344

.421

LHB

.251

.323

.398

Here are Lowrie’s platoon splits from this season:

BA

OBP

SLG

RHB

.233

.298

.256

LHB

.321

.394

.555

Historically, Lowrie has been a better hitter from the right side of the plate. This season, he’s been more productive in every area from the left side. This unexpected change is driving a lot of Lowrie’s success. His zone profile suggests he’s having a lot more success on pitches down and away this season, but it’s a relatively small sample at this point.

It doesn’t hurt that Oakland is batting Lowrie third in their lineup. He hasn’t given owners much in terms of RBIs this season, but he’s providing some nice value by scoring runs. At the very least, he’s in a position where he could possibly contribute to a fantasy roster in several categories.

The Bad

Mikhail Baryshnikov, a Russian-American ballet dancer, once said “The more injuries you get, the smarter you get.” If this is true, then Jed Lowrie must be a very smart person at this point. Since coming into the majors in 2008, Lowrie has played in at least 100 games only twice. Prior to the season, Jason Skoda wrote about Lowrie’s goal of staying on the field this season.

Lowrie’s injury history might be the reason Baseball Prospectus no longer updates that portion of a player’s profile page. The list of body parts that Lowrie has injured over his career is extensive. It includes his feet, fingers, neck, lower leg, thigh, knee, ankle, thumb and shoulder. His injury history also includes “general medical—infectious disease,” which I’m sure he hopes to expunge.

This is a red flag when it comes to a fantasy owner’s willingness to invest in Lowrie. If you’re looking for a season-long answer at second, he is a risky proposition. If you’re simply looking to roster him in the short term, this becomes a more reasonable possibility. The production has been nice so far, but history suggests he’s simply not going to be able to stay on the field for the entire season.

There’s another reason to be cautious about rostering Lowrie. Clearly, his level of production is well beyond what any owner would have expected, and yet he’s still barely cracking the top 15 for fantasy production from a second baseman. His batting average and runs scored have been nice. However, there simply isn’t that much else he’s offering when compared to other players at the position.

Buyer’s Guide: Sell

His start to this season is as good as it’s going to get for Lowrie, and he’s still a fringe starter at second in deeper leagues. It’s unlikely that he’s going to keep up this level of production over the course of the season, and if that’s the case, it’s likely you can find a player on the free-agent market who will out earn Lowrie by season’s end.

If there is a team in your league desperate for help at second/middle-infield, now is the time to see if you can get anything for Lowrie. Regression and/or injuries are eventually going to catch up with him, and you don’t want to wait so long that you miss the opportunity to upgrade if possible. There are several players at the position below Lowrie’s current value who have a decent shot of out earning him. Do what you can to go grab one of them in the coming weeks.

Thank you for reading

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nickgieschen
5/30
Apparently he also had his deviated septum fixed, which had been causing bad sleep for years. https://twitter.com/enosarris/status/861811571869208576