Dexter Fowler (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Finally, we have a new player to talk about. Enough of these minor league signings and fringe acquisitions.
Jeff Luhnow picked up a real, major league player on Tuesday who makes more than the minimum. Dexter Fowler is headed to Houston, and we can pencil him into centerfield and the leadoff position for 2014.
It is nice to actually acquire a player who is young and approaching the prime of their career. Fowler is a little different, and just a few steps above other recent additions to the outfield like Rick Ankiel and Adron Chambers.
So, let’s take a look at the Astros’ new addition.
Fowler is a switch-hitting 27-year old centerfielder who is coming off his fifth major league season. He is in the second year of a two year contract that will pay him $7.35 million this season prior to his last season of arbitration eligibility in 2015.
The outfielder has speed, but the most stolen bases he has had in a season is 27 which came in his rookie year of 2009. Last season Fowler stole 19 bases, and the potential for him to steal a minimum of 20-25 bases next season is very viable. Fowler will likely benefit from having a consistent role atop the Astros lineup, and I would venture to guess that Bo Porter will give him the green light to utilize his speed and get things started for Houston.
In fact, this is something that needs to happen, as the Astros struggled to generate much offense last season. A big reason for that, was the lack of a consistent presence atop the order.
For his career, Fowler’s average is .270, and last season he hit .263. While there is some potential for growth, I really would not count on the outfielder’s average to be much more than .265. The good thing though, is that he has shown the ability to walk and get on base. Last season Fowler walked 65 times, and had an on base percentage of .369.
Mixing Fowler’s speed with his double digit home run production gives you a complete outfielder. He may not be a game changing player, but Fowler will prove to be a solid competitor for the Astros who is also still developing.
More importantly, this was an important day for Luhnow and Astros’ fans. He took a step towards making the Astros better, a proven major league player was added, and money was spent. This can’t be the only big move for Houston all winter, but it is a start.
I think a conservative projection for Fowler in 2014 would be a .265 average, 12 home runs, 45 RBI’s, 75 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases. But what I do like, is that there is still some room for upside here. What do you think?