Red Sox face old friend Jed Lowrie in visit to Oakland

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 18: Jed Lowrie
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 18: Jed Lowrie /

Former Boston Red Sox infielder and current Oakland A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie is riding a hot streak as the team that drafted him comes to visit.

Why can’t we get players like that? That old line has been around almost as long as the sport itself. A player who was once with their organization goes on to thrive elsewhere, encouraging fans to mock the front office for allowing that player to get away. That sentiment can be extended by Boston Red Sox fans toward Jed Lowrie considering how he’s produced for the Oakland A’s this year.

The Red Sox drafted Lowrie with the 45th pick of the first round in the 2005 Amateur draft. He would make his big league debut three years later and spent parts of fours seasons as a utility infielder for the franchise.

Lowrie provided solid yet unspectacular production during his time in Boston, hitting .255/.324/.408 in 256 games with the Red Sox. He showed flashes of potential but struggled to stay on the field due to shoulder and wrist injuries. Lowrie also came down with a case of mono in the spring of 2010 that cost him more than half the season.

Unable to rely on the oft-injured infielder as an everyday player, the Red Sox shipped Lowrie to the Houston Astros in 2011 for reliever Mark Melancon. The deal proved to be a disaster for former GM Ben Cherington. Melancon posted a brutal 6.20 ERA in 45 innings with the Red Sox.

Cherington compounded the issue by giving up on the right-hander based on that limited sample, flipping him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joel Hanrahan. Melancon went on to become a three-time All-Star, establishing himself as one of the game’s top closers in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Hanrahan allowed eight runs over 7 1/3 innings for the 2013 Red Sox before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since.

Lowrie continued to develop into a serviceable infielder throughout multiple stints with the Astros and Oakland A’s. Injuries and inconsistency remained an issue but he’s been an above-average hitter over that span. He hasn’t become a star but he’s provided a lot more than Melancon or Hanrahan did for the Red Sox.

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Flash forward to this season and Lowrie may be on the verge of his first All-Star campaign. As the Red Sox prepare to open a series against the A’s, they face their former infielder during the best stretch of his career.

Lowrie is fifth in the American League with a .346 batting average and 1.009 OPS. He leads the league with 28 hits and 21 RBI while sharing the lead with six home runs. Only Mookie Betts and Mike Trout have produced more value than Lowrie’s 1.4 WAR this season.

Is Lowrie really having a breakout year at age 34? His track record suggests he’s in for significant regression – or an injury that threatens to derail his promising season. It remains to be seen if he can keep up anywhere near this pace but the Red Sox are catching Lowrie at a time when he’s better than ever.

We don’t think of the A’s as a powerhouse offense but they have been this season. Oakland ranks fourth in the league in runs scored, third in batting average and second in OPS. They have received stellar production from the likes of Matt Chapman and Khris Davis, yet no A’s hitter has had the impact that Lowrie has had on their lineup.

Next: Rookie manager Alex Cora off to historic start

Boston enters this series with the best record in baseball, as well as the top-ranked offense and starting rotation. Nobody is hotter than the Red Sox right now but Lowrie comes close.