Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why Dexter Fowler Is A Great Acquisition For The Astros

Yesterday, the Houston Astros acquired 27-year-old outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later in a trade with the Colorado Rockies. In return, Colorado received 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles and a great defensive outfielder in 27-year-old Brandon Barnes. However, I think the Astros have gotten the better part of the deal. Fowler is a switch-hitting speedster with a .365 career on-base percentage. His ability to get on base and swipe bags is something that the Astros lacked dearly in their lineup last season. They were caught stealing 61 times in 2013 - more than any team in the majors. Fowler was caught stealing 32% of the time in his 28 steal attempts last season. Given the fact that he was dealing with a string of injuries and only played 119 games in 2013, I think if Fowler can stay healthy he'll definitely be more productive for the Astros on the base pads. 

Another upgrade that the Astros have gotten by acquiring Fowler is that they'll have a more consistent center fielder at the plate. Brandon Barnes - who was Houston's everyday center fielder in 2013 - slashed .240./.289/.346 with 8 homers and 41 RBI in 2013. Fowler on the other hand slashed .263/.369/.407 with 12 homers and 42 RBI. The big difference between Fowler and Barnes - from a hitting standpoint - is their ability to get on base and not strikeout. With the speed that they both posses, putting the ball in play could be the difference between a strikeout or an infield single. Barnes struck out 31% of the time in his 408 at-bats in the 2013 season - compared to Fowler striking out 25% of the time in his 415 at-bats last season. They had about the same amount of at-bats in 2013 and the numbers speak for themselves - Fowler is an upgrade from Barnes in center field for the Astros. Fowler's numbers at the plate may decrease a little bit now that he's not playing half of his games in a hitter friendly park like Coors Field, but I still think he'll be a productive bat in Houston's lineup playing in Minute Maid Park. With the Crawford Boxes in left field, Fowler will be a threat to go yard when he's batting right-handed. Take a look at his hot zones as a right-handed batter:

Even though the hot zones only show contact statistics, I think his contact will lead to more than 12 homers in 2014 - especially if he plays more than 119 games. His hot zones are in slightly better areas than Brandon Barnes. Fowler has hot zones in more areas as opposed to Barnes' limited ability to drive the ball when thrown in certain locations. Here's a look at Barnes' hot zones:

Barnes may have been an everyday starter with the Astros, but I doubt he'll be an everyday starter for the Rockies. I see him being a forth outfielder for Colorado, as the outfield will probably look like this: Micheal Cuddyer in left field, Carlos Gonzalez moving back to center field and Charlie Blackmon in right field. With Barnes' inability to be a consistent hitter, I think being the Rockies forth outfielder is a more realistic position for him in 2014.

So the fact that the Rockies gave up Fowler and a player to be named later for a forth outfielder and a pitcher in Jordan Lyles who has yet to figure out how to be consistent at the major league level shows that the Astros will be benefiting more from this trade than the Rockies. I expect Fowler to have a bigger impact for the Astros than Lyles and Barnes will for the Rockies in 2014, as it should be exciting to see Fowler in an Astros uniform this upcoming season.

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