While certain aspects of the Rockies 2011 have been, shall we say, mildly disappointing, when it comes to projecting hope into 2012, one aspect that appeared to be among these disappointments in May but has since turned back into a potentially genuine impact part of the answer to the riddle of next season would be center fielder Dexter Fowler.
The pace that Fowler has been on since his return to the majors would give him 97 extra base hits if he was somehow able to keep it up for 162 games. He would score 136 runs and he would be the top of the order threat that all of us who had contention dreams for 2011 thought he could be at the beginning of the season. In six games in September, he's turned this up a notch, becoming among the most valuable players in the majors. Sound familiar? It should, he's had a disturbingly similar season to 2010, including the midseason demotion and promise of great things up on his return. Andrew Martin can probably just copy and paste his player review from last season and nobody will notice (not that we read them anyway..,)
That encore performance essentially leaves Fowler at an interesting career point for 2012, a make it or break it spot that will define whether he's a large or small piece of a contention puzzle going forward. As of right now, the sum of the ups and downs pegs him as a safe starting level contributor, but not as a contending separator, somebody who's capable of putting the Rockies over the top. If you take just the second half of the past two seasons, however, he rises to that level. A complete season in 2012 would put him into the category of players the Rockies should make every effort to retain, and we would hopefully see him getting the kind of extension attention that the Padres Cameron Maybin is getting right now.