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Why You Should Consider the Rays’ “Buy Lowe” Candidates

Why you should "buy Lowe" on these high ceiling sluggers

It’s been a somewhat frustrating year for fantasy owners of Rays’ hitters.

Randy Arozarena was flat-out awful throughout April and looked pretty mediocre in May. Yandy Díaz looked like the clock struck twelve and he had turned into a pumpkin, as his splits to start the year were rather sub-par. Isaac Paredes managed to keep up play at an all-star level, however, his lack of home runs for the first half of June gave a little credence to those who doubted him based on Statcast data.

Luckily, these players appear to be working towards turning things around, putting up numbers in recent series much more in line with the star-caliber totals we are used to.

Now two other core Rays players are on the verge of fully figuring it out. This might be the time to consider adding them to your fantasy squads.

Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe have a lot of similarities that go beyond their last names (which are, of course, pronounced differently). They both have ridiculously high ceilings, which we have seen in the past. They also have some of the lowest floors amongst the Rays’ core players, something that has been seen during some tough stretches this year.

Another aspect the two have in common this year is the medical bill. Both have missed significant time due to injuries, something that has made them somewhat expendable for fantasy owners. Among ESPN leagues, Brandon Lowe has a lowly 5.7% rostered percentage, while Josh Lowe is doing a bit better with 29%. Yet, despite the glaring red flags they’ve shown this year, there are also lots of green flags to be found in their track records and underlying data.

Today we break down what makes them such intriguing fantasy options.

 

Brandon Lowe

 

So the bad news is that Brandon Lowe is in a bit of a day-to-day flux because of a broken toe.

However, this likely won’t sideline him for too long and the reward is too high to be deterred by a minor injury.

We aren’t too far removed from a two-year stretch where Brandon finished top 10 in AL MVP voting, yet it certainly feels like a bit of a distant memory.

The last two seasons were marred with injury, and it appears this one will be as well. He was sidelined for a lot of 2022 with back issues, which carried over into 2023. Once he finally felt healthy, he was sidelined again due to an injury caused by a ricocheting foul ball. This recent injury history is a major reason why his fantasy stock has plummeted. But while yes, health is a serious factor worth considering, it is important to note what Brandon is capable of.

Brandon Lowe is a pretty obvious buy-low candidate if you do even a little bit of digging into his profile. Earlier in the month our Ryan Amore listed him as such, coming off a clutch performance that saw him hitting a walk-off homer. Since that moment, Brandon has had some stretches where he showed signs of returning to his old ways, despite getting little press for what has turned out to be a stellar June.

Power-hitting is not something you often get at second base. Brandon Lowe has taken advantage of this, as he set the record for being the fastest primary second baseman to reach the 100-home-run plateau.

Despite the injury concerns, the power that made him a top 2nd base option still exists. He ranks high among 2nd basemen with at least 100 plate appearances in a variety of statistics such as average exit velocity, barrel rate, and flyball rate. If there’s a stat predictive of extra-base hits, Lowe is top 10 in it amongst his position group.

Perhaps the easiest way to quantify the elite potential of Brandon Lowe’s power is using our Power statistic, which was developed to encapsulate some of the stats listed that show how hard players are hitting the ball. Similar to some of the more mainstream stats like OPS+ and wRC+, 100 represents the league average in the stat. Brandon sits at 116 power+, a highly impressive mark for a middle infielder.

An aspect that has always allowed Brandon Lowe to stand out besides just the thump in his bat is his intelligence at the plate. Strikeouts are a bit of an issue with Brandon, this is true. However, this doesn’t mean that he flails his bat around hoping for that home run. Brandon is an incredibly intelligent hitter, something that can be seen with his plate discipline stats.

Brandon Lowe’s Hitter Profile

Brandon reads pitches really well, something that has allowed him to keep up a high walk rate. This rate routinely is in the double-digits, as he has posted over 10% for the last five seasons. This significantly softens the blow of high strikeout numbers and batting averages lower than the average player’s.

Now it is important to note that the Rays have deployed Brandon in a bit of a platoon role, largely due to his historic struggles against lefties. The Rays also have two options at second base in Richie Palacios and Amed Rosario who have become specialists against left-handed pitchers. However, they have shown some confidence in Brandon, allowing him to stay in for some of the tougher matchups. His numbers against left-handed pitchers are better than against righties in 2024, although this is largely due to a smaller sample size.

With Brandon Lowe, there is plenty of inherent risk. The strikeout problem could persist, injuries could flare up, or the Rays’ schedule could be filled with lefties, encouraging Kevin Cash to sit him. However, with some of the best power and plate discipline at the position, the ceiling is way too high for fantasy owners not to take the risk of stashing Brandon even this late into the game.

 

Josh Lowe

 

Despite the hiccups that Brandon Lowe has seen this year, Josh Lowe’s season started even worse.

Josh’s issue seems to be similar to that of Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell. He was hurt early in Spring Training and because of that, he ended up missing nearly a couple of months. He had a brief rehab stint, but following that, he was inserted into the Rays’ lineup where he has seen rather mediocre results.

This is especially unfortunate as if you looked at his splits from the end of last year, it looked like he was ready to take the next step into the inner circle of corner outfielders. He batted over .290 and put up one of the quieter 20-30 seasons in recent memory, probably due to how absurd some of the stolen base totals were last year.

The main concern with Josh Lowe from a fantasy perspective is similar to that of Brandon Lowe. The Rays love using platoons to play the matchup, and Josh has perhaps been the player among the team’s core guys affected by this the most. In his breakout 2023 campaign, he only had 67 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers compared to 403 against righties. What is important to note though is about a third of those plate appearances against southpaws were in September. The Rays were down a few outfielders so Kevin Cash had to place his confidence in Josh. He delivered, putting up an impressive 186 wRC+ in the albeit limited sample. Many thought this would mean that Josh would be a regular contributor against lefties, but that hasn’t been the case.

Josh Lowe’s Hitter Profile

The underlying numbers this year showcase the flaws in Josh’s game and illustrate why he hasn’t been too successful. His discipline has been not the best, which shows up in his well below-average swing decision metrics. This is why Lowe has had a problem keeping the strikeouts down. His contact ability is fine, it allowed him to hit for a high average last year. But when he isn’t able to consistently square up the ball, the bad decisions at the plate hurt a lot more.

Similarly to Brandon Lowe though, there is massive upside in the form of Josh’s extra-base hit potential.

You could argue that Josh has the best toolset of any Ray to get those extra-base hits. His 16.4% barrel rate is ridiculously high, which correlates nicely to more doubles, triples, and homers. He also has excellent launch angle management, with a 44.3% launch-angle sweet spot rate. If qualified, this mark would tie Freddie Freeman for fourth in all of baseball. Considering Freeman has the best track record of launch angle management of any single player in baseball, this is a pretty impressive achievement.

This combination of raw power with elite launch angle management is pretty rare, as the ceiling is ridiculously high. This potential has been seen in flashes all year, with Josh’s recent multi-homer game against the Pirates being a great example of him at his best.

Now is the time to be ahead of the curve and bring these two “buy Lowe” candidates onto your team.


Photo by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@kurtwasemiller on X)

Ryan Clark

Ryan is a Fantasy writer for PitcherList. He was born in Tampa but has spent most of his life living in Canada, currently residing in Ottawa. His Tampa roots and his Devil Rays tee-ball team led him down the path of becoming a life-long Rays fan, making him one of the very few in Canada. Outside of baseball, Ryan loves music, writing and amusement parks.

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