The 2011 list of jettisoned Rockies has grown disturbingly long. Not that the Rockies made a mistake by parting ways with Paulino, Morales, and Lopez, but anytime there is that much roster turnover, it’s usually not a good sign. Clearly the cuts were the result of the too many losses. If the Rox hadn’t played so poorly in May, all three of those players would probably still be with the team. The good news is these moves indicate that management will not tolerate poor production. Next on the team’s hit list appears to be Dexter Fowler.
Fowler drives us crazy because he has so much athletic ability, but has never fully utilized his skill set. He runs like a gazelle, but is totally clueless about stealing bases. For his career, he’s only successful 62% of the time he tries to steal. This year he’s two for eight.
Currently, he’s striking out 31.4% of the time. That’s Mark Reynolds territory, only Reynolds is capable of hitting 30 plus home runs and Dexter isn’t capable of hitting ten.
The truth of the matter is that Fowler has regressed significantly this year. His batting average is down to .238 after hitting .260 last season. Batting average is usually a poor barometer of performance at the plate. However, when evaluated in congruence with BABIP, it can be more reliable. Fowler’s batting average is bad, but it should actually be worse. His BABIP is a fortuitous .345. That’s almost twenty points higher than last year and will probably regress as the year continues.
Defensively, Fowler has a very solid reputation. In reality, he’s above average, but nowhere near as good of a defender as someone with his range should be. Currently, his UZR/150 is 5.5, ranking 11th overall for centerfielders. That’s respectable for most players, but it’s not for a guy with Dexter’s potential. It’s also not acceptable from a guy that’s hitting .238 with limited contact and no power.
A move to replace Fowler with Charlie Blackmon could happen any day. I’m a big fan of Blackmon and believe he has a chance to be a better player than Fowler, but we will have to watch Charlie go through some growing pains. It’s become common to think that the Rockies’ poorly performing veterans can be easily replaced by prospects, but that’s not always the case. Either way, we’re about to find out. Fowler was once the Rockies’ future in center field. Now, it looks like his days in Denver might be numbered.