When the Astros traded for Dexter Fowler earlier this offseason, many fans, myself included, hoped that we had found our leadoff hitter of the future in the 27 year old switch hitter. Throughout his career, Fowler has shown an apt ability at the plate, with strong on-base skills along with a nice blend of power and speed. However, his offensive production seemingly always came with the caveat that half of his games were played at Coors. Admittedly, Fowler has shown a big home/road split thus far in his career, so it should be considered. The question for Astros fans though is about the future: did the Coors affect really inflate his overall ability, or will he be able to make the transition to Minute Maid Park just fine. I personally believe the latter, and to perhaps ease concerns, Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs examines the effect when position players move away from Coors Field.
I recommend reading the whole article, as it is a good read, in which he details the data and method used, where he ultimately concludes:
The players, on average, lost some points of wOBA, but then we’d expect that, and wRC+ corrects for that, and we actually see a wRC+ improvement. Same goes for full-season WAR.
Last year, in only 119 games, Fowler had a 2.0 WAR (per Baseball-Reference). If he manages to stay healthy and play most of the season (presumably increasing his WAR output), in addition to improving his WAR as Sullivans’ data showed on average, then I think most fans will be quite content with this offseason addition. Obviously, this does not guarantee future success of any ex-Rockie, Fowler included. I think what it does do effectively though is conclude that concerns of Coors Field home/road splits just might be exaggerated. That being said, my optimism for a strong, healthy year from Fowler is renewed. What can I say, I guess hope springs eternal! Going back to what Bo Porter mentioned at FanFest, a 1-2-3 of Dexter Fowler, Jose Altuve, and Jason Castro could certainly prove to be a pleasant surprise!