2015 Fantasy Baseball: Dexter Fowler To the Cubs
The Chicago Cubs recently sent Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena to the Houston Astros in return for Dexter Fowler. The outfielder is coming off of a strong 2014 where he hit .276/.375/.399, though he was limited to 505 plate appearances in 116 games due to various injuries.
Initially with the Colorado Rockies, Fowler proved he isn’t a Coors Field illusion last season by hitting 24% better than league average, a personal best. While his batting average took a somewhat expected dip after leaving the thin mountain air, Fowler’s main concern is no longer which park he hits in, but now of the platoon variety. For his career the switch-hitting Fowler has crushed southpaws, yet is just league average against right-handed pitchers. While he technically has one plate appearance as a right-handed hitter against a right pitcher, we’ll only be looking at his PA’s when he holds the platoon advantage.
If hitting righties at a league average clip is his biggest flaw, Fowler makes for a quietly useful player. In a recent mock draft conducted with fellow industry nerds, Fowler was taken 251st in a standard 5×5 league, though if your league happens to utilize on-base percentage, he gets a significant bump in value. His stolen base numbers have been on the decline, however it appears as though Fowler still has speed. Ultimate Base Running score doesn’t count stolen bases or caught stealing, but it is safe to say Fowler still has his legs.
A change in home parks could give Fowler a power boost as well. His home run total and isolated power are on three year declines, but hitting in Wrigley could help him. The GIF below displays the two park overlays, however according to FanGraphs’ Park Factors, moving to Wrigley should benefit Fowler. As per their GUTS page, Wrigley is rated at 102 versus the 100 of Minute Maid. While it is a minor difference in the park, the lineup surrounding Fowler could prove to be even more significant.
While the Northsiders scored fewer runs than the Astros last season — not to mention a lower team wRC+ — this year’s version of the Cubs could prove to be a significant step forward. Failing that, at least hitting in front of Anthony Rizzo for a season should bring about a boon to Fowler’s runs scored given his great OBP. For a player in the later rounds, Fowler is flying under the radar while offering a fair amount of upside.