When the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox emerge from their clubhouses Sunday night at Fenway Park, there is a chance that the best shortstop in uniform will be a spectator. Derek Jeter and Marco Scutaro are the starters at the position for the AL East rivals, but at this point in their careers, neither is as good as the Red Sox backup, Jed Lowrie.
To say that Lowrie has had a tumultuous career with the Red Sox would be an understatement, as he was hampered by or missed significant time with wrist problems and a bout of mononucleosis. However, after early struggles, he appeared to turn the corner last July. In 197 plate appearances after returning to the team, Lowrie smashed 14 doubles and nine homers, showed excellent discipline -- walked as many times as he struck out -- and had an impressive wRC+ of 143. Lowrie manned second base, filling in for the injured Dustin Pedroia, until he and Scutaro flip-flopped in September. Had Lowrie mostly worked at shortstop, that wRC+ would have been the best mark for a Red Sox shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra's mark of 154 way back in 2000. It was the first sign that Lowrie could be the coveted shortstop of the future, and it may have come just in time. He is 27 this season and stud prospect Jose Iglesias should be ready for the 2012 campaign, if not sooner.