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Brandon Lowe’s case for Rookie of the Year

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It may or may not involve Yordan Alvarez going missing

MLB: ALDS-Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 American League Rookie of the Year finalists have been announced and Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe is among the three players who are up for the highly coveted award — along with Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros and John Means of the Baltimore Orioles.

Lowe made his MLB debut last August with the Rays, and, after some initial struggle, he did very well down the stretch in 2018. When the 2019 season dawned, the Rays showed their faith in Lowe, as they signed him to a long term contract extension that could keep Lowe with the Rays through the 2026 season.

The small-in-stature and large-in-power Lowe immediately awarded the Rays for their faith in him, as he had a blistering start to the season and hit well above average throughout the first half. The only thing that could stop him came in early July, when Lowe suffered a severe bone bruise that kept the slugger sidelined for over a month. When Lowe was on the comeback trail, he suffered another injury, as he strained his quadriceps, which seemed likely to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Even Kevin Cash flatly said he was done for the year following that latest setback.

“He’s done for the year. I think that’s the best way to say it. And if he comes back early, great.” - Kevin Cash

However, Lowe managed to return for the Rays for their final week of regular season games as they battled for their first playoff berth since 2013. In his second game back, Lowe showed he still had plenty of pop as he launched his 17th home run of the season.

Once the regular season closed out and Lowe’s numbers became official, he ranked second among American League rookies in most offensive categories — with his competitor Yordan Alvarez taking the top spot.

There isn’t much of an argument to be made for Brandon Lowe over Yordan Alvarez as the Astros upstart rookie arrived with a offensive barrage that catapulted him into being the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.

However, Lowe’s season numbers are nothing to sneeze at as the 25-year-old hit .270/.336/.514 with 17 home runs over 327 plate appearances, accruing 2.6 fWAR for the Wild Card winning Rays. (Alvarez slashed .313/.412/.655 for 3.8 fWAR over 369 PA).

Meanwhile, the other Rookie of the Year finalist from the American League East, John Means has some justification for being up for the award as well. While pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball, Means accrued the highest fWAR among American League rookie pitchers, and his 3.60 ERA was the lowest among qualified AL rookie pitchers as well.

The competition is stiff for Lowe, but for him to be nominated for the award is a testament to his contributions to the Rays this season and fans can only be left wondering ‘what if’ he hadn’t missed half the season.

The American League Rookie of the Year winner will be announced Monday, November 11 at 6:00 p.m. on MLB Network.