Dexter Fowler will hit leadoff or 2nd for Colorado in 2011; as a prototypical speed guy in Colorado he probably will not be cheap enough at auction for his risk and reward to be in sync. Should we pursue him anyway?
Analysis: The book on Dexter Fowler is blazing speed, can hit LHP, but not any of the numerous RHPs, stole bases like crazy in the minors, but got caught way too often in The Show. A look at his splits shows his problems are only 2: (a) hitting/stealing versus RHP and (b) hitting outside of Mile High Stadium. His full season stats show he improved against RHP, hitting .260 from both sides of the plate. More good news is he hit .280 against all pitchers in the 2nd half following .233 in the 1st half. Even more encouraging was his 2nd half .304/.341/.494 against RHP. In 2010 he was an 80% base stealer (excellent) against LHP and had a 45% success rate vs. RHP. Typically it’s easier to steal against RHP, as a LHP is looking directly at first base when pitching from the stretch and thus shortens the base runner’s lead and often delays his first step. We assume this is correctable by Dexter with good coaching. After all he did steal 43 bases in 99 games in a single minor league season (Class A ball). So far so good for the future, yet when we look at his home/road splits from 2010 we catch our breath: .313/.401/.531 home v. .201/.297/.298 road. While he is improving and has the tools for a high ceiling, Dexter has a long way to go to be just an average MLB hitter in those 81 travel games in 2011. We think he will be better in 2011, but he won’t be a true breakout hitter. He will make an even bigger jump in value after another season of MLB experience. Don’t pay for 2012 in 2011.
Projection: 550 PA, 7 HR, 70 R, 40 RBI, 22 SB, .382 BA, .360 OBP