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2022 in review: Nathaniel Lowe

The Silver Slugger Award winner had a big 2022 campaign

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.

Today, we look at first baseman Nathaniel Lowe.

What a difference a year makes. After the 2021 season, there were questions about Nathaniel Lowe and whether he was going to be able to hit enough to be more than just an okay first base option. In particular, concerns about his ability to handle fastballs up in the zone had become a big red flag for Lowe. A .264/.357/.415 and a 114 wRC+ wasn’t what we were hoping for.

Then came 2022. Lowe started off the year slowly and had an abysmal May, when he put up a 582 OPS. As the summer heated up Lowe did as well, however, and he had a huge second half of the season, slashing .339/.399/.566 after the All Star Break. For the year he put up a .302/.358/.492 slash line, good for a 143 wRC+. It was a significant improvement over 2021, and it earned him the Silver Slugger Award in the A.L. for first basemen.

Lowe put the ball in play a lot more in 2022 — his walk rate dropped from 12.5% to 7.4%, while his K rate also dropped, from 25.2% to 22.8%. Lowe saw a jump in his BABIP — at .363, he had the second highest BABIP in the majors last year — as well as a jump in his ISO. Interestingly, while Lowe was just okay against righthanded pitchers, putting up a 817 OPS, he crushed lefties to the tune of a 920 OPS.

We noted last year that while the reports on Lowe had him struggling with high heat, he was actually very good against four seamers, but struggled mightily against sinkers, relative to the rest of the league. For the second year in a row he performed well against fastballs, sliders and changeups, but also showed a marked improvement against sinkers — after putting up a .304 wOBA on sinkers in 2021, he had a .354 wOBA against them in 2022.

Lowe also wasn’t shifted much, and looking at his spray chart shows why — Lowe went the other way almost as often as he pulled the ball. One thing I noticed last year is that it seemed like Lowe had a ton of singles that went the other way, and his spray chart shows a bunch of singles to left, as well as up the middle. The shift being banned is not, it would seem, going to impact Lowe much.

While Lowe put up a .368 wOBA on the season, he only had a .344 xwOBA, which would seem to be an indicator that he benefited from a bit of good fortune in 2022 as far as batted balls go, especially since he isn’t a burner who is going to beat out infield hits. Lowe also, interestingly, outperformed his xwOBA in 2021, having put up a .337 wOBA versus a .323 xwOBA. For his career Lowe has a .332 xwOBA, but a .348 wOBA.

I do wonder if that is due, at least in part, to Lowe not being a pull hitter, and tending to hit the ball to all fields. If you spray the ball to every field, it is harder to position your fielders in a way to take advantage of your tendencies, something we see from the lack of shifting against Lowe.

Lowe seems to have quieted, at least for now, his critics, and first base is not currently seen as a question mark for the Rangers. The 27 year old will be slotted in the middle of the Rangers lineup, and the hope is that he can rake and we can not worry about him, at least for the next few years.


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