Friday, April 22, 2011

Legendary Battle: Sam Fuld versus Jed Lowrie

These days, if you're a fan of Major League Baseball and follow anyone on Twitter blogging about baseball, then you're surely aware of a legendary battle taking place amongst the hashtags.

First out of the gates was the #LegendofSamFuld, dedicated to Tampa Bay Rays' outfielder Sam Fuld as he burst onto the baseball scene as a result of the Manny Ramirez retirement fiasco. A recent 12-game stretch of Fuld's produced these eye-opening stats: .420 BA (21/50), 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 7 SB, 3 BB, 3 K along with many defensive gems and a string of "legends" the likes that haven't been seen since Chuck Norris. Here's a sample of a few gems:
  • Sam Fuld eats Chick-Fil-A on Sundays.
  • Superman wears Sam Fuld pajamas.
  • Sam Fuld can divide by zero.
  • Honus Wagner bought a Sam Fuld rookie card at auction.
One of the most memorable moments during Fuld's legendary ascent was in a game against the Boston Red Sox in which he only needed a single to complete hitting for the cycle and adding his name to the Rays' record books forever decided to stretch a ninth-inning single into a double and there was no turning back from his legendary status.

While the Sam Fuld legend was growing, a new legend was being birthed in Boston for their own cult hero, Jed Lowrie, with the #LegendofJedLowrie hashtag. Lowrie is in the midst of his own eye-popping offensive assault over his last nine games: .531 BA (17/32), 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R, 0 SB, 1 BB, 5 K, spurring legends such as these:
  • Jed Lowrie doesn't have a shadow.
  • Unicorns drink Jed Lowrie's blood to stay hidden and magical.
  • Harry Caray has decided to come back to announce a game with
    Jed Lowrie playing.
To get a pulse of what other baseball bloggers had to say about which side of these legends their allegiances lay, I reached out in this edition of my Fantasy Forum series to fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members and other friends I've made in the blogosphere, and here is what they had to say on the subject of "legendary".

Michael Clair (@clairbearattack) of Old Time Family Baseball weighed in with:
There hasn't been a more fun story in baseball than the emergence of Sam Fuld. Fuld, a career fringe Major Leaguer, diabetic, and player who grew up obsessing over statistics, is the patron saint of the superfan. He's like us, only phenomenally gifted at playing baseball.

While his .344/.379/.525 start has been exciting and proof that he has is deserving of more Major League than given in previous years, it's not time to anoint him a fantasy god. Fuld doesn't offer enough power for a corner outfielder, having never topped six home runs in a minor league season, and his career .777 minor league OPS doesn't offer much hope either. He has an excellent batting eye, so if your fantasy league uses OBP instead of batting average, he's an great pick up. Fuld is a #Legend because he's a great guy who followed a unique career path and doesn't embarrass himself with extended playing time, something that is still a rarity. If anyone can prove me wrong though, it's Fuld.

Jed Lowrie, currently doing his best Troy Tulowitzki impression, is a different story. Three years ago Lowrie looked like the shortstop of the future for the Red Sox, hitting .258 with 25 doubles as a 24 year-old rookie and his offensive future was bright. At 27, Lowrie is just now entering his prime and with a few more good weeks, he should wrestle the starting job away from Marco Scutaro. If Francona can get him enough at-bats, and considering his home ballpark, Lowrie is a good bet to hit at least .275 with 15 or so home runs. How many shortstops managed to do both last season? Four. Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Alexei Ramirez, and Stephen Drew, with Miguel Tejada just missing the cut.

Rob Munstis (@bottomlinesox) of The Bottom Line weighed in with:
The legend of Jed Lowrie began in 2007. He tore through Double A and Triple A like Pecos Bill riding a tornado, hitting a combined .298 that year, while smashing 47 doubles, 8 triples and 13 homers while playing all over the infield. In 2008, he earned a spot on the big league roster and the Red Sox rode his bat through August, while Jed hit .284 with 12 doubles, 3 triples, 1 homer and 24 RBI in 102 at-bats.

It seemed Jed was desitined for greateness, but injuries and illness plagued the mighty Jed in 2009 and 2010... and whispers of a new "shortstop of the future" with "magic hands" began to spread through New England.

Jed returned to the field in 2011 and quietly made the team as the utility infielder, ready to wait his turn. But with the Red Sox floundering to an 0-5 start, the need for a hero grew, and Jed was ready. After a battle with the hated Yankees, Lowrie exploded onto the scene, starting 6 of the next 8 games and leading the offense with his Paul Bunyan-like lumber - hitting .465 with an 1.115 OPS, 2 doubles, 3 homers, 9 runs and 11 RBI, while players with bigger and much bigger contracts struggled to keep up.

Bottom Line: All joking aside, Lowrie is on a roll right now, and has more talent and power than Marco Scutaro. The Sox will create ways to squeeze him into the lineup, but he may struggle to log 400+ at-bats as long as Scutaro remains in Boston. Ride the wave and sell high when you can.

Kyle Phillippi (@PiratesGab) of Pirates Gab weighed in with:
Heroes come and go, but legends stay forever. A recent surge on Twitter has dubbed Sam Fuld and Jed Lowrie 'legends.' But wait? They seem a bit young to be legends already, to be compared to the likes of Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. In my opinion, none are legends right now, but down the road, I could see Sam Fuld being the legend. As of Thursday night, Fuld was batting .344 with a .380 OBP. That's quite impressive for anyone, let alone a three-year player.

My favorite Sam Fuld tweet: Sam Fuld can steal first base.

Jonathan C. Mitchell (@FigureFilbert) of MLB Dirt weighed in with:
Player A - .284/.372/.401 with a 112 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR and 1.2 rWAR in 115 games.
Player B - .267/.345/.446 with a 108 wRC+ and 4.3 fWAR and 4.1 rWAR in 182 games.

Player A - 11.9% Walk rate and 12.2% Strikeout rate and 5.9 Speed Score.
Player B – 10.9% Walk rate and 21.7% Strikeout rate and 3.3 Speed Score.

Player A - Can play all three outfield positions and is 29 years old.
Player B - Can play all four infield positions and is 27 years old.

Both “Legends” have struggled in small sample sizes and both have flourished in small sample sizes. Neither has enough experience to paint a perfect picture of which “Legend” will continue to perform at a high level of play.

Both Sam Fuld and Jed Lowrie have the ability to be contributing factors to any team. Fuld could be most team’s starting centerfielder and is a major fan favorite. I had the pleasure of talking to him last night about his “Legendary” status and he is enjoying the ride and thanking the fans along the way by signing autographs for a minimum of 20 minutes before each game. I mean, this is a guy that eats Chick-Fil-A on Sundays and had April 11th renamed April Fuld’s Day in his honor. But, due to his position, age, Fan Nation, and better minor league track record, Lowrie is more likely to be an All-Star and carry the legend on for seasons to come.

From my fantasy perspective: I think Sam Fuld has the longer leash on job stability this season since the Rays are in a transition  year, of sorts, and that could allow him to get 600 at-bats to prove whether or not he's in their long term plans. Is a .300+ batting average with 30+ steals really that far-fetched? That's better than what Brett Gardner will put up this season.

Jed Lowrie probably has more fantasy upside, as long as he remains in the mix for at-bats. He already qualifies at 2B/SS and could be working towards some more time at 3B if the Kevin Youkilis injury is serious. He has more HR/RBI upside and could score as many runs as Fuld in a Red Sox lineup that will eventually start running on all cylinders.

As far as #Legend's go, I think the #LegendofSamFuld has more staying power. One, it comes from a place of true fandom for a player that is the epitome of gritty. And two, it's the original. Unfortunately the folks driving the #LegendofJedLowrie have taken to attacks against Fuld rather than simply promoting all that they love about their hometown hero. And that act tends to get old.


  1. Good stuff. Lowrie is on my fantasy team for now - i'm riding this horse as long as I can.

  2. UPDATE: Sam Fuld is now on Twitter @SamFuld5. Teammate David Price (@DAVIDprice14) confirms it as well as a Rays PR person.

    Let the fun with the #LegendofSamFuld continue.