OAKLAND — By this point in the season, it’s no surprise when Jed Lowrie sprays extra-base hits to all corners of the ballpark.
That he’s still doing it in an A’s uniform?
Few people could have predicted that.
The assumption leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline was that Lowrie would be shipped off to a contender in need of a versatile switch-hitter infielder. While pitchers Sonny Gray, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and, eventually, first baseman Yonder Alonso all got dealt, Lowrie remains in green and gold.
That’s been to the benefit of A’s manager Bob Melvin. Lowrie has been as steady a hitter as anyone for Oakland this season. He doubled twice Friday night and delivered the game-tying hit in the 5-4 comeback victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
“He’s been through it many times,” Melvin said of the trade speculation. “He just plays it day to day and prepares to win on a particular day. This is as healthy as he’s been. He’s able to go out there multiple days in a row and he’s been as consistent as anybody we’ve had all year.”
Lowrie is hitting a team-high .275 and now leads the entire major leagues with 37 doubles. His RBI total is a modest 40, but some of that has to be attributed to a lack of opportunities from the No. 3 spot in the order. A’s leadoff hitters rank 13th out of 15 American League teams in on-base percentage, and their No. 2 hitters are dead last. There just aren’t enough runners in scoring position when Lowrie steps to the plate.
It’s still possible he could be dealt this month if he passes through waivers unclaimed. Teams can acquire players up until Aug. 31 and have them be eligible for the postseason.
Whatever happens, Lowrie is at peace with things.
“I think before the non-(waiver) deadline it was a distraction, no doubt, because everybody’s talking about it,” Lowrie said. “It seems like after the trade deadline, if (he were to be traded) it just kind of happens. It’s just not a theme that everybody is talking about.
“I was happy when the deadline was over whether I was traded or not. That distraction kind of dissipated.”
It stands to reason that the only way the A’s will deal Lowrie this month is if they are ready to recall top prospect Franklin Barreto from the minors and install him at second. Whether Lowrie gets traded or not, Barreto figures to rejoin the A’s sometime after the Sept. 1 roster expansion.
Worth keeping in mind: If Lowrie sticks around, the A’s hold a $6 million club option on him for next season that they can either exercise or buy out for $1 million.
Coming off an injury-plagued season in 2016, he’s been very durable this year, and the way he goes about his business on a daily basis doesn’t go unnoticed by the A’s younger players.
“He’s so professional, that’s the only way I can describe it,” rookie first baseman Matt Olson said. “He knows how to go about his at-bats. He has a plan up there, clearly. He hits the mistakes that you need to in order to be successful in this game.”
With his gap-to-gap approach, it’s no surprise he’s racked up 37 doubles. He’s got a great chance at surpassing the career-high 45 he collected in 2013 with the A’s.
“That’s my game,” he 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.”