Dexter Fowler (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Houston, we have a lead-off hitter. In case you haven’t heard, just over two weeks ago, the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies swapped a quartet of players that was headlined by Dexter Fowler. The Houston Astros sent Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Fowler and a player to be named.
Dexter Fowler was drafted as a 14th round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 2004 amateur draft. He spent about four years in the Rockies system, earning a major league debut during the 2008 season. As a member of the Rockies, Fowler has a career line of .270/.365/.423 with most playing time from the leadoff spot. Bo Porter will likely keep Fowler in his comfort zone. Last season the lead off spot for the Astros had Jose Altuve, Robbie Grossman, and Jonathan Villar, among others, combine for a .240/.299/.375 line.
The slash line is a commonly used and understood tool in evaluating a player. Bases on balls are an important way to get on base and undervalued by many throughout the game. The Houston Astros have three players who had a minimum of 500 plate appearances during the 2013 season. Chris Carter, Matt Dominguez, and Jose Altuve walked at rates of 12.0%, 5.1%, and 4.8%, respectively. Fowler fell just short of this threshold of 500 plate appearances and managed a 13.3% rate for the 2013 campaign. This walk rate is over his career average.
His addition to the Astros lineup does give them a lead off hitter. He is able to take pitches and draw walks which can lead to runs. Strikeouts killed the Astros in the 2013 season. They set a new major league record in a bad way. Fowler would have been second on the team to Chris Carter with a 21.3 K % rate. With the improvement in walk rate stated earlier, Fowler also slightly improved his strikeout rate which is down from a 22.3% career rate.
Overall the Astros and Jeff Luhnow stole a very good lead off hitter from the Colorado Rockies. The team has lacked a solid number 1 since the trading of Michael Bourn. Perhaps Fowler can follow in the footsteps and go beyond his potential as he enters his prime patrolling the grass in front of Tal’s Hill.