Breakout Candidate: Could Nate Lowe Finally Emerge Now That He’s Freed From Tampa Bay?

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Nate Lowe has been hyped, though the results in the Majors haven’t quite lived up to it. We all know the Rays play matchups as much, if not more, than anyone in the league and that may have helped contribute to the pedestrian numbers. Now in Texas, could the left-handed hitter finally emerge as the viable option we’ve heard about?

Before we can fully answer that question, let’s look at the numbers over the past two seasons:

  • 2019 (169 PA) – .263, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 24 R, 0 SB
  • 2020 (76 PA) – .224, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB

Clearly power is his best skill, as he’s also added 10 doubles and showed a strong Exit Velocity (90.5 mph over his career). If that’s not a question, we need to figure out:

  1. Can he hit for a usable AVG?
  2. Can he play everyday?

The answer to the first question should be yes. While strikeouts have been an issue at the highest level (31.8% strikeout rate over his MLB career), his approach justifies a far better mark. With the Rays he’s posted a 10.5% SwStr% and 28.9% O-Swing%, and his worst Whiff% on any pitch was a 14,21% against hard pitches in ’19 (last season his worst mark was 13.11% against breaking balls).

Couple that improvement with a 37.1% Hard% and 28.0% Oppo% and things should improve dramatically. Maybe he’s not a .300 hitter, but would .270ish really surprise anyone?

As far as being a regular, it’s impossible to draw that conclusion quite yet. Tampa Bay has never fully given him that shot, with just 45 PA against left-handed pitchers (comparatively, he’s had 200 PA against righties). At Triple-A in ’19 he did show an ability to hit southpaws, though not for the same power (AVG / OBP / SLG):

  • vs. RHP – .291 / .406 / .559
  • vs. LHP – .284 / .447 / .414

He had 116 AB against lefties that season, striking out just 29 times. It shows that he can do it, if given the chance, and for the rebuilding Rangers it would appear that time will come.

With power, as well as the potential for a solid AVG and regular playing-time finally there, this is the time to invest. A breakout could be coming.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
Catcher--
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Shortstop12/07/20
Outfielder--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--



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