Dexter Fowler's PX is Up with a Bullet
Dexta-plane banks 45 degrees, heads NW?


I'm not his biggest fan, but ... vis-a-vis Jacoby Ellsbury?  Fowler has scored 91 runs per 162 games in his career, and last year that was 97 runs per 162.  Going forward it might well be 100-110 per 162.  

More to the point, you save $15-20M a year in salary.  So it's like [Fowler-and-Choo] vs [Ellsbury].  In that event, he's worth a simoleon.


The Spect-O-Meter already triangulated Fowler for us.  Here is the exec sum of what Spec has on him:

  • Spec is partial to 2B+BB hitters --- > which Dexter Fowler most soit-ain-ly is
  • He has been hitting HR's.  Disregard those, which won't continue.  If teams don't disregard them, Spec's out.
  • Fowler's production won't implode like Figgins' did, because Fowler's BB%, etc. is rock-hard
  • He fits the M's nicely, as a poor man's Jacoby Ellsbury

Dr. D doesn't disagree with any of that, so let's see if we can't kick the soccer ball a bit further down the pitch ...


"Clever" Adds

One of the many points of common ground that Dr. D has with the fangraphs crowd:  it ain't always the sensational FA adds that wind up on the winning teams.  At the end of the year, it's sometimes the second-tier guys who wound up pushing their teams to victory.

Boston's adds, last year, weren't Fielder-esque.  Napoli and Uehara and Victorino were stilettos in the Yankees' rib cage, more than they were blackjacks to the back of the cranium.

Easy to imagine Dexter Fowler being a part of a (say) Billy Beane run to glory.  Just 'cause Fowler doesn't get 100 RBI doesn't mean he's off SSI's wish list.



Scouting Profile

One look at Fowler's (LH) swing and you'll see why the Michael Saunders comparisons.  He's very tall, long-lever, athletic and he's a little bit kludgy by ballplayer standards.  So, start with the understanding that he's going to be a late bloomer.  Therefore, he's probably still improving as a hitter.

That observation intersects with Fowler's trends.  Ron Shandler, in Forecaster 2013, noted with enthusiasm that Fowler's PX (power index) was rising sharply.  

Then, in the first half of 2013, Fowler soared even higher on the power boards, with a HUGE leap in batted ball distance.  For two months, his batted ball distance was totally consistent with 25-HR power.

But this poster pointed out the reason.  Fowler has extreme hot spots, and extreme cold spots, in his LH swing.  For some reason, pitchers had not succeeded in staying low-away to Fowler the first two months.  Here is how OFTEN he swung at pitches in 2011 -- that is, the decisions that the HITTER was making:

Dexter Fowler crushes inside pitches, and has a tough time with low-away pitches.  Remember how Ichiro could hit high-and-in fastballs over the RF fence, almost at will?  Fowler is like that with anything on the inner 1/3, especially low fastballs.

Fowler is well aware of his strike zone map, and the pitchers are well aware of it also.  For three years, the National League has been waging a war with Fowler over this tendency.  Here was the pitch FREQUENCY to him in 2011 -- that is, the decisions the PITCHERS were making:

Dexter Fowler is a very, VERY intelligent hitter.  He does a sensational job of identifying pitches and managing his strike zone.  His limitations have been purely physical, not mental -- he has been getting the very most out of his talent that he's capable of.

The more casual fan might think, "Fowler only had that hot streak because pitchers were being idiots."  No, the thing is, hitters make progress in their ongoing wars with pitchers.  When Michael Saunders shows longer and longer FLASHES of his potential, how do you take that?  Fowler is showing longer and longer flashes.  If he busted out next year, he'd be a year or two older than Curtis Granderson was, when Granderson busted out.


You might ask, "Why don't pitchers just stay low-away?"

Well, listen, Bub ... a strike zone hole doesn't count if you TIP the PITCH.  Any hitter, and we mean any -- if he KNOWS the pitch is away, he can dip the back knee, lean out over the plate, and make it a centered pitch.

 A pitcher having a "safe spot" low-away ... it's just like the Seahawks having a strong running game.  If you know it's coming, you can stop it.  The above heat maps are assuming the hitter is being honest.


Dr's Prognosis, 2014-15

Fowler IS, right now, Good Michael Saunders.  (with less power.) He's a reasonable CF, he's nice OBP, good wheels, and all indications are that he could a hitting plateau or two left in him.  Fantasy baseball players have their eyes on him because he's one of the most likely ML players to leap into stardom.  (Maybe a 25% chance.)

He enters his 2nd year of arb eligibility, so you'll probably give him what, $4M next year and $10M the year after? I dunno.  Somebody who tracks that stuff, lemme know.  He's going to be a big salary bargain, so you'd think the fangraphs guys would go nuts over the idea.

I ain't givin' you two top prospects for Dexter Fowler, but let's say he was the M's THIRD or FOURTH player in this winter, well, he's a part of the landscape.


Dr D





According B-R, Doc.....and Cot's, too. He would be a $25-27M/3-yr guy. I'll go back to my earlier thought, if you have him for 3 (get a 4th, with a team option) seasons, he'll likely have one year where he's .260+ish/.360-ish. If he has that one when your other new guys get hot, then you've got fun in the sun. But he's got a .230 year in him, too. Or two.
If he went .230, .260, would have a fine player. If he went .230, .230, .260....well his .260 better coincide with some other hot bats.
His away numbers, outside of Coors, can not be erased. They mean something. He has three of the.210-.230 type seasons. He hit .280 on the road, one time, too. He has some of what you're talking about in him, Doc. But in the past, he's had more of the other.
Therein lies the rub. BTW, he's a minus dWAR glove...albeit in CF.
But, if you get 3, 3 and 3 WAR out of him, it was a wise investment. He's had 2 seasons at about that number and a couple at 2 WAR.
As a value-added guy, acquired cheaply, to go with the COF bigger bat, he ain't terrible. Saunders, Fowler, a big bopper, and Almonte or Romero makes 4 isn't THAT bad.
But he needs to be cheap.........and playing 2nd fiddle to an added rock 'em, sock 'em guy. You got it, spot on.
Gimme all that and I'll play ball. But in there somewhere, you're discounting Ackley's chance to be an everyday LF'er.


Colorado is supposedly asking two premium prospects.
Bringing us full circle to you and Spec... if you're paying for a near-Ellsbury, nada.  If you get him on the cheap, with upside in the car trunk, that's different.
Which is probably the situation with 60% of the targets this offseason... yet their teams and agents are wanting ARod-esque ransoms...


Terrible defense, terrible base runner, would cost two quality major league youngsters? You can get Morse for a song instead and get the same production at DH. Butler's power dropped off dramatically last season. Was he battling an injury?
I'd sign Morse instead, stash Franklin back in Tacoma for now if we want to put Ackley back at second, and keep ERam for insurance.


He just had his worst year, still OPS+'ed 116, gets on base at a 37% clip, and is consistent. His downside is the two year contract with the $12.5M in '15. Make it 4/$36M and take the production at DH, unless the safe bet is Kendrys returns at a bargain. I wouldn't have any problem adding Morse either, really. Morse isn't going to be that much cheaper than Butler....BTW.


Generally agreed with your analysis the visuals here...very illustrative of the issues with Fowler's game. An exploitable hole will prevent him from ever being a high-average hitter unless some day he alters his approach on those pitches. He's a smart player, but he's not a good fit in Seattle for a couple of reasons. He doesn't help us in CF..he's -10 runs out there...not really better than Saunders defensively. And he is crushed by lefties...which exacerbates our existing problemo vs. lefties.
I wouldn't pay even one significant prospect for Fowler.


Two blue-chippers? Ack! (To quote Bill the Cat)
Too steep.
There aren't a lot of CF's out there. Guti, anyone?
But you can skin this OF cat in other ways, too. B-R and Fangraphs have Saunders in the same glovey CF class as Fowler. Live with Saunders and Almonte out there and acquire two other OF's. Or give Ackley LF and hope his bounce is real. If so. he's of value.
Delmon Young is available (kills lefties, doesn't walk), Kubel might be had at a discount (not much of an OF glove). Kelly Johnson is versatile, could be had relatively cheap, and hasn't any split difference. I think some guy named Mike Morse had a good time here for a while. He's out there. Chris Young is a FA, isn't he. Would earn about the same as Fowler and not cost you to get him. Was terrible last year, however. Hits lefties to the tune of .262-.363-.474 over his career (most of it in Arizona). Was terrible last year.Has been a + dWAR glove most of his career. Had two seasons above 2 dWAR in CF. Is he a better player than Fowler? At least as good. In many years he's slugged nearly as well on the road as he did in Arizona. Can he bounce back? Stubbs can be had.
Anybody know anything about Yoshio Itoi of the Orix Buffaloes? Career .320-.389-.458 in Japan. Plays CF, too.
Looks like his team is not planning to post him....but you never know.
There are decent OF options not named Fowler or Ellsbury. I'm not giving up two frontline prospects for Fowler when guys in his ballpark are much cheaper. And Ellsbury isn't coming our way.
Butler may be, though.

blissedj's picture

I threw our a comparison to the lanky Jayson Werth a few days ago in the shout. These taller guys will sneak up on you as they get towards age 30. For that reason I hope we don't give up on Michael Saunders. Speaking of Saunders, is his CF defense so bad he can't stick there? We already saw Jay Buhner establish one level of production and then around 30 jumped up a couple more levels. Wouldn't surprise at all to see Fowler hitting 20 HR in CF outside Coors.
Fowler is certainly better then some of the options we have on hand. I'd much rather have him than another season of Endy Chavez or whatever the 2014 version of that is. Just depends on the cost. If they want Paxton then forget it.

RockiesJeff's picture

If the Rockies really valued Fowler and saw the improvement, they could sign him long tern. They have some cash freed up with Helton retiring. I think they see Fowler having more seasons like the last. And they see guys like Blackmon coming up who might even be better. Ton of talent. But if I am playing poker with the Rockies, I call their bluff and give them two UN-premium kids. Want more? I will go find another game. Fowler was a whole lot of average last year. Moments of glory but very inconsistent and the knack for injuries. Rockies are big time hard up for pitchers. There are some I would prefer the Mariners not let go.
Does it not get tiring to see ex-Mariners in the All-Star game?


There are some guys, where At The Right Price you could get interested.  (Other guys, Stanton, Lee, Braun, you don't mind what you give up.)
By the way ... you see a lot of Rockies games?  Or that's your HS team name?

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