2008 Projections: Mike Lowell

In a season when both Big Papi and Manny Ramirez struggled (relatively speaking), Mike Lowell was a godsend for the Boston Red Sox. Filling the fifth and even the cleanup spot in the order, Lowell turned in a monster season, hitting .324/.378/.501 with 60 XBH and 120 RBI. He made the All-Star team, finished fifth in MVP voting in the AL, and was voted World Series MVP with his heads up, clutch play.

In addition to his bat, Lowell provides a lot of other things: an incredibly steady glove at third base, veteran professionalism and leadership, and a unifying presence in the clubhouse (Lowell is fluent in English and Spanish). The Red Sox went into this offseason with one main priority: RE-SIGN MIKE LOWELL. And they eventually got it done, with the 34-year old Lowell passing on at least one other more lucrative offer from the Phillies.

Boston is a great place for Lowell to play out his career, because his swing is almost tailored for Fenway Park. He hit .373/.418/.575 there last season (as opposed to .276/.339/.428 on the road), taking full advantage of the Monster, and is now batting .316/.375/.512 lifetime at the Fens. You’d be hard pressed to find more extreme splits than that. Lowell is as solid as it gets at third base, and sometimes spectacular, but his limited range keeps him from being truly Gold Glove caliber. Good thing for the Sox that he mitigates that with his expert positioning.

What to expect in 2008? Unfortunately, at least some of last year’s numbers were due to luck, as Lowell sported a career-high .342 BABIP, well above his career average of .293 on balls in play. As good as his numbers looked, his ISO was actually better in 2006 than 2007 (.190 versus .177). So realistically, we can expect something that looks more like his 2006 campaign than last year’s effort. My prediction? .290/.345/.460 with 17 HR and 80 RBI.

Projection comps:

Marcels:	.284/.341/.449	16HR	83RBI	532AB
Bill James:	.282/.349/.459	17HR	81RBI	490AB
ZiPS:		.272/.333/.429	15HR	64RBI	552AB
CHONE:		.286/.346/.455	18HR	81RBI	560AB

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