Florida Marlins History: Appreciating 3B Mike Lowell

Florida Marlins infielder Mike Lowell assists on an out against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays June 26, 2004. The Rays won 6 to 4. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Florida Marlins infielder Mike Lowell assists on an out against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays June 26, 2004. The Rays won 6 to 4. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /
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The Miami and earlier Florida Marlins have had 590 players get onto the field for them during the regular season over their first 27 seasons of play.

Mike Lowell was the 155th player in Florida Marlins history, making his debut in late May, 1999.

Lowell was a six-foot-four, 195 lb. right-handed hitting and throwing third baseman from San Juan, PR. Born 46-years-ago today, he was taken in the 48th round of the 1992 MLB Amateur Entry Draft by the Chicago White Sox. He didn’t sign, and three years later was again taken in the draft, but this time in the 20th round by the New York Yankees.

In mid-September, 1998, Lowell made his first major league appearance with the Yankees, and went four-for-15 in eight games for the Bombers. Just prior to Spring Training in 1999, New York traded Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Todd Noel, Ed Yarnall, and Mark Johnson.

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JUPITER, FL – MARCH 3 : Infielder Mike Lowell #19 of the Florida Marlins. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After a month in the high minors, Lowell was called up to the Marlins for good on May 28th. He played in 97 games through the rest of the campaign for Florida, clocking a team-third dozen home runs and slashing .253/.317/.419 with 47 RBI. The Marlins were 64-98 overall, and 37-44 in games that Lowell started (.457) compared to 27-54 in other games (.333). Florida loved Lowell at the hot corner, and never tried him elsewhere until his final year with the Marlins, in 2005. That first year, he was 28 points above National League fielding average at third base, posting a mark of .981.

In 2000, Lowell stepped up his production to .270/.344/.474 with 22 home runs and 91 RBI in 137 games. The effort pushed his OPS+ above the league average for the first time, settling in at 110 and earning 2.2 bWAR. Defensively, he was again well above league-average, coming in at .968, 18 points above the average 3B in 1191 1/3 innings.

2001 would see Lowell take another small step forward offensively, when he reached the 100 RBI plateau for the first time. He clubbed 18 homers with exactly 100 RBI while slashing .283/.340/.448 in 146 games. As usual, he was well above average at third base, 26 points above average at .976 for the season.

Florida Marlins
MIAMI – JULY 29: Third baseman Mike Lowell #19 of the Florida Marlins. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images) /

Lowell turned in his first All Star season for the Florida Marlins in 2002, leading the team with 44 doubles, 92 RBI, and ranking second with 281 total bases and 165 base hits. In 160 games, he slashed .276/.346/.471 and turned in a 116 OPS+, his best mark to date. In 1400 1/3 innings at third base, he was 12 points above average at .969.

If there’s one thing you can take away from Lowell’s career, it’s that he was always, from his first game to his last, an above-average fielder at the hot corner. In 2003, Lowell’s won his first World Series title with the Florida Marlins, who were claiming their second at the time. Lowell also made the All Star team for the second time and won his only career Silver Slugger with a .276/.350/.530 line in 130 games with a career-high 32 home runs and 105 RBI. He was five zone total fielding runs and 18 points above average in fPCT. at third base. Lowell only hit .196 through the playoffs, but did club two taters in the National League Championship Series against the doomed Chicago Cubs.

Lowell made the N.L. All Star team for the third time in a row in 2004, although the Marlins didn’t quite make it back to the playoffs. In 158 games, he hit .293/.365/.505 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. At .982, he was 26 points better than the average third baseman defensively.

Florida Marlins
MIAMI – JULY 27: Mike Lowell #19 of the Florida Marlins. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images) /

In 2005, Lowell didn’t make the All Star team and didn’t win another Silver Slugger, but he did take home his first and only Gold Glove. He did that by putting up pretty much the same defensive numbers as he did every other season he was in professional baseball. He was 13 zone total fielding runs and 25 fielding percentage points above average. On the other side of the ball, Lowell turned in a career-worst OPS+ of just 77, while slashing .236/.298/.360 with eight home runs and 58 RBI in 150 games.

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The dip in Lowell’s hitting metrics turned out to be temporary, but not before the Florida Marlins traded him away. They sent him with Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota to the Boston Red Sox for Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, Hanley Ramirez, and Anibal Sanchez.

Lowell remained with the Red Sox through the next five seasons, making his first American League All Star team in 2007 and later winning MVP of the World Series. In 612 games, he turned in a .290/.346/.468 line with 80 round-trippers and 374 RBI.

Since retiring after the 2010 season, Lowell joined the MLB Network as a Network Analyst and remains until the present day.

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