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Wednesday Rockpile: Dexter Fowler, Enigma

He leads the NL in strikeouts (with 43), but he also is second in the NL in walks (23). He leaps Chase Utley in a single bound and has the speed of a galloping gazelle, but he only has two stolen bases this year (and has been caught three times). He's the man who saved a no-hitter, and he's also the man known as the bane of no-hitters. He is Dexter Fowler, and he's third on the Colorado Rockies in fWAR with 1.1.

Fowler, my pick for a breakout player this year) has been a league average hitter this season (as his 100 wRC+ and .334 wOBA would indicate) with a .256/.374/.372 line, but a large part of his value comes from his defense (that 3.5 UZR rating so far is best on the club, plus he gets a position bonus for manning center field). This is very curious indeed, as coming into the season UZR rated Fowler as a -19 run fielder. Of course, Rockies fans thought this was ludicrous, and in the small sample size of 2011 UZR seems to agree.

The bottom line is that Fowler has been who we thought he was offensively, a patient leadoff hitter (14.7 BB%) who strikes out a little bit more than we would like (33.3 K%). His BABIP is up a little (.379 vs. a career .340) but so is his line drive % (28.6% vs. 22% for his career) -- which leads qualifying Rockies hitters by the way. With his defensive prowess, if Dexter Fowler could continue hitting in this manner he's a 3-4 win player -- and that's without the stolen bases or power. Were Fowler to cut down on his strikeouts and maintain his line drive rate, he's a 4-5 win player.

For all the doom and gloom heard about the Rockies' lineup this year, Dexter Fowler is having a pretty darn good season for Colorado.

Fowler also may be hurt after he fouled a ball off his leg in last night's game right after the rain delay ended. The Rockies are calling it a bruised tendon, with Fowler being day-to-day.

Over at FanGraphs, there are two Rockies-related articles to look at. One involves this afternoon's starting pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez. Dave Cameron does his best to rank the five starting pitchers with the best stuff. "Stuff" is a hard concept to define precisely, but Cameron does a pretty good job. Jimenez comes in 2nd on Cameron's list behind King Felix.

The other article is by prospect maven Marc Hulet, and it looks at the 2008 draft for NL West teams. Hulet calls Christian Friedrich the best pitching prospect in the division from that draft, while Charlie Blackmon is highlighted for his delightful power-speed combo.

Plenty of other links after the fold.


Other Links

Andrew wrote a lot yesterday about Chris Iannetta, including a little bit about his defense this year. In fact, the official reason for Iannetta's number one catcher spot has not been his .398 OBP but rather his game-calling and his handling of the young Latin pitchers (namely Jhoulys Chacin in the linked article). 

It just so happens that Matt Klaassen of Beyond the Boxscore has some pretty comprehensive catcher defense rankings (no, it doesn't include handling the pitching staff, game calling, or framing pitches), and Iannetta rates in the middle of the pack. His best component ranking is his caught stealing rank, while his worst is his PB/WP rank, which is curious because he hasn't had any passed balls this year. Ubaldo Jimenez and his myriad wild pitches must have a lot to do with it then.

On the injury front, erstwhile sixth starter Esmil Rogers experienced arm pain during some long toss and will get a MRI to diagnose whether it's a rotator cuff injury. The upshot of this news is that there will be seconds of Clayton Mortensen, starting MLB pitcher. Don't worry ladies, there's more than enough Clay to go around.

In good injury news, Ty Wigginton is on track to rejoin the Rockies on Saturday after a short rehab stint with AAA Colorado Springs.

Last night's loss might have been frustrating, but at least Troy Tulowitzki still owns the Mets.

When it comes to social media, the Rockies are middle of the pack in Facebook fans and below average in Twitter followers. Look at how unpopular the Diamondbacks are.

Finally, Grant Brisbee of MCC has his set of power rankings up -- and they're derived by ranking hair metal bands by geographical location. Grant has the Rockies dead last. Of course he does.

On a side note, it's snowing outside my window right now. Of course it is.