One of the summer’s biggest All-Star snubs has been corrected, as Oakland A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie was named to the American League squad as an injury replacement, the A’s announced Tuesday. It’s the first All-Star berth of his 11-year career. He takes over for Gleyber Torres of the Yankees, who is on the DL with a hip strain and was officially ruled out for the Midsummer Classic.
The initial snub of Lowrie was completely ridiculous, as we covered in depth here. The 34-year-old is having a career year and there’s an easy case that he’s the second-best 2B in the league (behind Jose Altuve). He was worth 3-4 WAR in 2017 so he didn’t come out of nowhere, and he’s on a 6-WAR pace this summer that could likely earn him downballot MVP votes at year’s end.
Lowrie, 2018: .288/.358/.504, 139 wRC+, 16 HR, 25 doubles, 62 RBI, 9.5% BB, 19.6% Ks
Instead, for the reserve 2B spot the players voted in a Yankees rookie with 63 games of MLB experience to his name. None of that is meant to knock on Torres, an elite prospect who is also having an excellent season and could wind up as a superstar in his own right, but he’s a rookie who has a long way to go to prove himself. Lowrie has frankly been better this year, which is apparent to anyone who looks beyond simple batting average and home runs (like doubles, park factors, defense, high-leverage clutch performance, etc.).
For some reason the traditional-stat crowd suddenly stopped caring about RBI in this debate, as his total of 62 ranks second in the entire AL after only J.D. Martinez. A dozen of those ribbies have been game-winners, which ranks second in the league, and he’s done all that without any star table-setters batting in front of him (heck, barely anyone with an OBP over .300 in front of him).
Lowrie should have gotten this spot in the first place and not had to wait to loophole his way in, but what’s done is done and the important thing is he got in eventually. History tends to remember who made the team but not how they made it, so Lowrie is as much of an All-Star as Altuve is this year. Even better, the 51-40 A’s now have the privilege of a second representative, as they were previously limited to just closer Blake Treinen despite being tied for the 7th-best record in all of MLB.
Congrats to Jed on a well deserved honor!