Dexter Fowler: If you avert your eyes, no red flags
Just pretend you didn't see the "HR" column


If you followed my minor-league analysis at all, you may know that I would bet on a doubles-and-walks guy (Kyle Seager, Brad Miller, Chris Taylor) over a homers-and-strikeouts guy (Casper Wells, Alex Liddi, Carlos Peguero).

Dexter Fowler, it turns out, is a doubles-and-walks guy.

It's just that, unfortunately (or fortunately, if you are dependent on Fowler's economic status), Fowler managed to reach double-digit home run totals in each of the past two years.  That feat does, in fact, appear to be a combination of playing at altitude in Colorado, and a few fortunate plate outcomes on the road.

In 2012, he hit 10 dingers in Denver and 3 elsewhere.  In 2013, it was 7 and 5, but -- looking at the totality of his work product -- the home-run power is not something to rely on.

He got lucky, babe.  Or, at least, it sure looks that way.

So, as I indicated in the headline, avert your eyes from the "HR" column.  Just pretend it says "7" or thereabouts.

After we do that, how do we evaluate Dexter Fowler now?

Well, Fowler's "true" self ought to be a near-30-double, 60-walk guy.  That's his profile.  And, you know what, that's a pretty good profile.  Plus, up through 2012, he was tossing a dozen or so triples in the mix.

In 2013, he seemed to have good fortune with the home-run balls, but bad fortune with doubles and triples.  Expect that to even out.  His track record indicates that 20+ doubles ought to be routine.

And the walks!  Fowler has 4,409 pro plate appearances and has walked in 12.3% of them.  Minors and majors, year after year.  There are not many guys who have a 12% walk rate, and most of them are sluggers.  Fowler is doing something right.

And for those of you concerned with Fowler's road splits ... he still walks plenty on the road (11.5% career).  His ISO and BABIP are lower on the road, but his patience doesn't really drop.


But before we get enthused, we know that folks are likely to bring up the "C-word."  As in: "Chone."

Well ...

  • Figgins was more like a 10% walk guy (except 2009), whereas Fowler is consistently 12+%
  • Figgins never had an ISO over .123 and he only did that once.  His career ISO was .087.  Fowler has never had an ISO below .141.  Even if Coors-inflated, he stings the ball a lot more often than Figgy.
  • Figgins only reached 30 doubles once (in 2009).  Fowler did it twice in the minors and once in the majors (with another season at 29).

Of course, it was after the 2009 season that Figgy got his Seattle contract. 

But it's pretty clear that Fowler hits the ball harder than Figgins and is much more consistent at drawing walks.  He's a legit .360 OBP guy.


Is that a fit for the Mariners?

Well, Fowler is clearly a true center fielder.  He's barely played random innings at any other position, minors or majors.

And, as a complementary player, his doubles-and-walks game can be a definite plus.  He's exceeded .360 OBP in four out of five full seasons.

In fact, if you assume that Jacoby Ellsbury's monster 2011 is a fluke, Fowler doesn't profile too differently (more strikeouts, but also more walks).  Ellsbury only exceeded .360 OBP in that one epic season.

Considering that we are now faced with our reduced-expectations version of Dustin Ackley, Fowler kind of already is what we hope Ackley will become.

Of course, you don't want that guy as your "main add."  And you don't want the price to entail the expectation that he's morphing into a power guy.  But if Fowler is a complementary add at market-rate cost, I, for one, won't object.




Fowler is signed only through next season, for $7.35 million. Not that that cost is unreasonable but he would require a trade chip for a one year rental and who knows how much to sign to an extension, especially in light of the increasing player costs. I doubt he would be worth offering a Qualifying Offer to in hopes of getting a draft pick when he walked after next season. Especially after Safeco deflated his offensive numbers somewhat.


He'll have to hit .265-.270, to get there Spec. He's a career .270 guy....but only .241 outside of the launching pad. He did walk 106 pts last year, a career high. That was driven by a 129 pt walk rate on the road. Mostly he just churns our 95 pt walk rates. That's nice! OK, you could argue that his his eye has taken a leap, it is possible, but I think we're hoping he can sustain a .260-.265 Avg.
He's hit .236, .211, .286, .262, .214 on the road, over his five full seasons. For fun, if we throw out the worst of those, would we be pleased if, in 4 seasons in Seattle, he hit .236, .286, .262, .214? You would certainly get a bargain if he hit .280+ for us in any season. That's what the Fowler bet might just be about. Get him for 4 seasons: One will be not worth it at all but one will be way better than what you're paying him.
Would you be pleased? I would. A lot! But to get there we've cherry picked a bit, haven't we.
He's not an easy out, he can run (although his 67% SB rate isn't great), he can field, he hits from both sides of the plate.....he has value. Oh, he's cheap.
If you add a power COF guy, then I'm not sure you don't just move Saunders to CF again.....but Saunders might well go as part of some swap and Fowler can surely help a team. It isn't impossible that he could be ours. I wouldn't throw a party, but I wouldn't kick either. Right now he's good for two years, $7.35M next year and one final arb in '15. If I'm giving up something pretty to get him, then 2 years isn't enough. 3, with a team option for the 4th, would be just right. 3/$25M...would he sign? And if so, is your $ better spent elsewhere? Are you $8M a year better off than with Almonte? He's a CF, but he's certainly not a great you're getting no glove premium.
He isn't a no brainer acquire, for sure, but if he hits .260-.280, he's a very nice player.
If you have him for 4 years, he'll do it at least once.

RockiesJeff's picture

I get busy during spring and summer but do watch enough Rockies on TV to appreciate that Fowler is a gifted athlete who has incredible potential. Back home in the NW you are all talking about players not improving or regression. This last season Fowler would have been shredded in blogland. He was a disappointment with hitters behind him. The Rockies want to try to sell high on Fowler and fleece a team for pitchers. Trade a Paxton or such for Fowler? Nope!


Coors influences more than just HRs. It has a HUGE impact on BABIP, on triples, and even on BB rate. Safeco, BTW, has the OPPOSITE impact on BABIP and BB rate. And is neutral on triples.
I guarantee that Fowler will never have 10 triples again in the rest of his career so long as he does not play in Comerica or Coors. And I guarantee that he will struggle to bat even .250 at Safeco.


I posted back a few threads that his Double and Triple Rate was greatly reduced on the road, too.
Two questions, Matt: 1. What is the BB Rate bump in Coors? 2. Do you agree with my point that Fowler would get to .260+ at least once, if we had him for 4 years (or 3 years with an option. If he hadn't done it by the end of the 3rd year, I suppose you drop him)?
He has to pack his WAR bag on the offensive end, because he doesn't bring any in CF from his own glove. What's a WAR worth now-a-days?
CF'ers: I don't believe we're getting Ellsbury. I like Stubbs (and have said so before), but his K-Rate will scare lots of people away. He does hit lefties, though, and he's pretty cheap, cheaper than Fowler. His downside is as a 4th OF/platoon guy, but affordable even in that role. Beltran will end up with a contender. There doesn't seem to be a bunch of CF'ers on the market. Saunders and Almonte might be it. Unless the rumors of Ackley's CF demise are premature.
Matt, what would you do in CF?

The University of Illinois physics department says that Coors has 7 percent less air drag than average, and Safeco has 3 percent more.  Moe says that the PGA says that Denver golf balls have 7 percent more carry than average too.  That is a full 10 percent difference in air drag between Safeco and Coors.  I bet that that is as big of a deal as the difference between a 90 mph and a 100 mph pitch.
Also, apparently, Coors field is the largest active field in the majors, at 117,000 square feet of fair territory.  No one seems to know the fair territory square footage of Safeco, either before or after the remodel, but it surely isn't 117,000 square feet.  It is probable that doubles and triples would be aided by both the size of Coors as well as the thin air it contains.  These are two strikes against  Fowler's batting statistics, but also may say something positive about his defense.  If Fowler can play CF for the Rockies, he must be really good with a glove.  
A person could figure out the square footage of Safeco with this schematic,, printed to scale, a protractor, drafting paper, and a lot of high school geometry.  But, that is too much work.  We don't work for the Mariners.  
So, yeah Matt, based on all of this, please tell us about BABIP and line drive percent and other statistics that might be interesting about Coors.  Also, why on earth would a launch pad park affect walk rate?  Is it because the pitchers can't throw curveballs as well?


The park's reputation as a launching pad probably makes pitchers less likely to want to be aggressive in the zone...yielding the tendecny to throw more nibble pitches. And the fact that Coors has less drag also severely dampens the break on all breaking pitch types, including sinkers, spltiters, change-ups, curve,s sliders. I would think this would make it harder for pitchers to have good command, especially the road pitchers.
As for line drives and XBH and BABIP...the carry reduces fly ball BABIP some, but the shear size of the park increases it. And the park's vast gaps increase triples. Meanwhile, the fact that pitches have less break and balls have more carry there increases the solid contact rate there...and the size of the park increases the area that fielders must cover. All resulting in increased BABIP.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.