Chicago Cubs Gradeout: Dexter Fowler adds depth to team


DEXTER FOWLER. B+. 156 G, .250 AVG, .346 OPB, 29 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 5 OF Assists . OF. Chicago Cubs

The trade that brought Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs was one of those rare trades that worked for both parties. The Houston Astros received strong play from infielder Luis Valbuena, while the Cubs got strong play from Fowler both in the outfield but also from the leadoff position.

Dexter struggled in the first half of 2015, hitting just .232. He hit .272 in the second-half, while overall proving to be very instrumental towards the Cubs’ postseason push.

His first-half struggles might be attributed to a lot of bad luck. For instance he was in the top five of most victimized hitters who had strikes called on pitches out of the strike zone.

The Cubs led the Majors in striking out (1,518) but also finished first in the National League with 567 walks, just three off the pace for tops in MLB. A lot of that has to do with Dexter Fowler.

In the first-half, Dexter had a .308 OBP with 35 walks. His patient approach, which, at times, avoided him in the first-half, would ultimately reward him in the second-half. Fowler’s second-half statistics led the team in walks (49), BA (.272), OBP (.389), third in slugging (.463), and first in OPS (.852). He also finished fourth in the NL in runs scored with 102, a personal best for him — Fowler became the first Cubs switch-hitter to score at least 90 runs since Brian McRae‘s 111 in 1996.

With all the names and talk of such young talent on this 2015 Chicago Cubs team including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, it’s almost astonishing just how good Fowler was. He might not grab the headlines but he was every bit as much the reason for the team’s success as anyone.

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Fowler, a switch-hitter, adjusted his approach from the left side and saw the results. While he hit .228 from that side, he would slug 13 home runs to go with 34 RBI. From the right side he hit .326 with four homers and 12 RBI.

Fowler was among five players to play all nine postseason games for the Cubs, and among those five with at least 27 at-bats, finished just behind Schwarber in average (.278), OBP (.316), SLG (.500) and OPS (.816).

Fowler, who set career-highs in games played, runs scored, home runs and walks, made $9.5 million in 2015. He is set to enter free agency for the first time in his career this offseason, and will undoubtedly field many offers for a multiyear contract.

Dexter Fowler was a stabilizer in the Cubs’ outfield, starting 149 games in CF, the second-most in the NL behind Andrew McCutchen. Theo Epstein has already made his intentions known that he would like to discuss bringing Fowler back for 2016, and after the 2015 season he had, that’s really no surprise.

Next: Grading Jake Arrieta's Cy Young-caliber campaign