Dexter Fowler had a rough 2018. It started out with him going 0-fer the first series in New York with 6 strikeouts in 14 plate appearances (to 1 walk drawn). The best it got by the numbers was the three separate days in April in which he finished the day with an OPS between .650 and .655. After April 24th, his OPS fluctuated between .537 and .640 at the end of any given day. He ended the year with a line of .180/.278/.298/.576 when he got injured on August 3rd and didn’t play again the rest of the season. The on field issues were not the worst part of his 2018. Fowler admitted to Derrick Goold this offseason that he “was depressed.” Having never battled this level of depression that Fowler describes within the article myself, my guess is that his off the field issues became on the field issues and vice versa. I’m fairly sure that Chuck and Bruno would agree with that assessment based on what they wrote after Goold’s piece came out. In the last 5 seasons, right fielders have averaged this line per 600 plate appearances:
Here is what my system has for Dexter Fowler’s 2019 projection:
only 455 PA
62 runs, 18 doubles, 5 triples, 12 homers, 47 RBI
22.0% K rate, 12.5% BB rate, 9 SB, 4 CS
While those numbers aren’t great, and certainly aren’t as good as the average right fielder over the past 5 years, they’re not terribly far off. Considering his counting stats are coming in 455 PA, that leaves 145 PA for someone to make up 12 runs, 9 doubles, 8 homers, but 23 RBI, while Fowler already outpaces the 3 triples the average RF position gets per 600 PA and the SB mark as well. He walks a lot more than the average RF and strikes out at about the same rate.
That’s the long way of saying that these projections don’t have him being league average out there, but it could be worse and likely will be better with the platoon.
I’m not going to pretend to guess on where Fowler will hit in 2019, but if you look at how players have hit at each spot in the order for the last five seasons, you can see (below) that he fits in best as batting either 1st or 6th and below. The #2-5 spots in the order should not be reserved for my projections’ version of Dexter Fowler.
What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?
Fowler’s career averages and most recent seasons prior to last year all show that last year was a significant outlier.
How/If things go wrong:
I think this is one of the easiest questions I’ll answer on these projections. 1) He could still be dealing with depression. 2) His 2018 performance could become his new norm - see Alex Gordon’s significant drop off.