'The Jed of old': Lowrie's hot bat fueling A's

Oakland's offensive surge continues as winning streak reaches 5

April 16th, 2021

OAKLAND -- There seems to be a magical connection between Jed Lowrie and the A’s uniform. That’s about the only way to make sense of this unexpected career rejuvenation he currently finds himself in.

Lowrie’s hot-hitting ways continued in Thursday’s 8-4 win over the Tigers at the Oakland Coliseum. The second baseman’s presence in the middle of the A’s lineup has been a key reason for their offensive surge during their five-game winning streak (the longest active one in the American League), with his team-high batting average improving to .348 after a 2-for-4 night.

Crushing an RBI single in the seventh inning at 108.1 mph off the bat -- his hardest-hit ball ever tracked by Statcast (which dates back to 2015) -- Lowrie, who turns 37 on Saturday, registered his sixth consecutive game with an RBI. It was also his fifth straight multi-hit game, which matches the longest streak of his 13-year career.

“I’d keep asking about him, too,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t know what to say anymore. He’s having a great year. He’s getting big hits and driving in runs. He’s just the Jed of old. He’s as productive as he’s ever been.”

Coming off two injury-riddled seasons with the Mets -- he played nine games in 2019 and none in '20 -- Lowrie’s phone seldom rang with offers from Major League teams this past offseason. Aging players with knee injuries aren’t exactly the most attractive free agents. Yet, after going through most of the winter with a vacancy at second base after losing Tommy La Stella to free agency, A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane made a call to the veteran Lowrie.

The A’s knew what type of player Lowrie could be at his best. They saw it up close during his two previous stints in Oakland from 2013-14 and 2016-18. That version of Lowrie was a hitting machine who set a single-season Oakland record with 49 doubles in '17 and followed that with an All-Star campaign in '18 in which he garnered some AL MVP Award votes and slashed .267/.353/.448 with 23 home runs, 37 doubles and 99 RBIs.

The only question the A’s had about Lowrie was how much he had left in the tank. That’s why they brought him in on a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training in February. It didn’t take long for him to revert back to his old self, though, swinging a hot bat at the start of Cactus League play and carrying over that immediate success into the regular season.

“You have to give him a lot of credit for some hard work,” Melvin said. “It’s as much a mental thing as physical when you haven’t had many at-bats in two years. We saw right away in Spring Training that he can still do this, but it’s not easy.”

Whether it’s magical forces at play or just the familiarity of being back where he enjoyed his glory days, there’s something different about Lowrie whenever he suits up in the green and gold. To see it, all you have to do is compare his numbers with Oakland vs. the other teams he’s played for:

Lowrie in six seasons with the A's: .272 batting average, 62 home runs, 175 doubles and 332 RBIs.
Lowrie in seven seasons with the Red Sox, Astros and Mets: .244 batting average, 44 home runs, 87 doubles and 189 RBIs.

That’s some serious offensive production in Oakland. But Lowrie’s impact goes beyond what he does on the field. With so much knowledge of the game that he's built up over the years, Lowrie’s locker in the A’s clubhouse is often crowded by younger players searching for hitting advice or tips.

“I pick his brain all the time for hitting stuff,” A’s outfielder Mark Canha said. “I ask him questions and try to learn what I can from him, because he’s a great baseball mind, especially when it comes to hitting. He’s an awesome presence in the clubhouse.”

Lowrie’s advanced approach at the plate seems to be rubbing off on the rest of Oakland's hitters, particularly during this recent hot stretch. The A's have scored at least six runs in each game of their five-game win streak, totaling 37 runs over that span.

On Thursday, Stephen Piscotty and Matt Olson each belted a solo homer. Plate discipline was also on display, with the A’s drawing 12 walks against Tigers pitchers, including six in a four-run sixth, their most walks in an inning since drawing six in the eighth inning against the Astros on Sept. 9, 2017.

“This is what we do,” Melvin said. “We hit some homers and draw walks to keep putting pressure on until we get big hits. Our offensive numbers were terrible for a while, and now, across the board, we’re getting great at-bats.”