After the Oakland Athletics posted a losing record in April, May and June, second baseman Jed Lowrie expected to be traded.
It made sense for the team to exchange productive veterans like Lowrie for prospects following last-place finishes in 2015 and 2016. Lowrie hit .292 with six home runs and 16 doubles over the first three months.
The 33-year-old watched the Athletics send top relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to Washington. He saw ace Sonny Gray move to the Yankees for three minor leaguers. And just after the non-waiver deadline, he witnessed All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso head to Seattle.
But Lowrie remained in Oakland, surrounded by the quiet aftermath of a busy trade period. No longer burdened by the stress of a potential move, he’s overcome a rocky July to regain the form that made him an asset earlier in the season.
“Before the non-waiver deadline, it was a distraction for me,” Lowrie said. “Everybody was talking about it. … I was happy when the deadline was over whether I got traded or not just so the distraction dissipated.”
Lowrie hit .220 in July and supplied just five extra-base hits — possibly tanking his trade value to an extent.
In 11 August contests, he’s batted .267 with seven extra-base hits.
He went 2-for-5 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs on Thursday against the Orioles. Then, he capped a 2-for-4 performance on Friday with a game-tying ground rule double to right-center field. The hit set up a go-ahead sacrifice fly from right fielder Chad Pinder.
Lowrie is tied for the major-league lead in doubles this season with 37 after delivering four against the Orioles.
“That’s my game,” Lowrie said. “It’s not like I’m gunning to be the leader, I just want to go out and continue to do the same thing I’ve been doing all year.”
Along with outfielders Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis, Lowrie brings experience to a lineup stocked with players under the age of 30. He’s been the most productive member of the veteran group.
Rookies such as first baseman Matt Olson, who blasted three home runs against Baltimore this weekend, look to Lowrie as an example for how to approach hitting.
“Watching Jed at the plate, he’s so professional,” Olson said. “He knows how to go about his at-bats, he has a plan up there and he hits the mistakes you need to be successful in this game.”
This is also one of the few seasons Lowrie has remained healthy. For the third time in his career, he’s played in more than 100 games. The other two instances came in 2013 and 2014 during his first stint with the Athletics.
Between his on-field production and improved health, Lowrie’s $6 million team option for next year looks like a bargain. Free from daily trade rumors, he’s back in a groove at the plate and seemingly prepared to finish strong, even as teammates dealt over the past month compete elsewhere.
“He’s been through [the trade deadline] many times,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This is as healthy as he’s been, and he’s been able to go out there multiple days in a row, and he’s been as consistent as anyone we’ve had all year.”MLB