Dexter Fowler’s value to the 2015 Cubs

On the surface, the Dexter Fowler addition to the Chicago Cubs may not seem to make a lot of sense. Fowler is a free agent after this season and the Cubs, while optimistic about 2015, are a team that is probably not going to contend for a postseason spot. 

With all the talk of the great young hitting prospects the Cubs have, one of the things they lack is plate discipline and the ability to draw a walk. As a team the Cubs’ 24.2 percent strikeout rate was dead last in baseball in 2014. Their 7.2 percent walk rate was not horrific — middle of the road in baseball — but that was mostly due to Anthony Rizzo’€™s 11.9 percent and the recently departed Luis Valbuena’s 11.9 percent.

A look inside the numbers of some the younger Cubs hitters is rather scary. 

Player BB% K%
Jorge Soler 6.2% 24.7%
Javier Baez 6.6% 41.5%
Starlin Castro 6.2% 17.6%
Arismendy Alcantra 5.7% 31.0%

Fowler’s 13.1 percent walk rate was fifth best in the American League in 2014, and his .375 OBP was ninth. 

The more the young Cubs hitters see these type of hitters in their lineup the more influential they will be on them. Rizzo is that type of hitter who had a nice season last year and took his first step towards stardom. Fowler is a veteran player who has been doing it for years.

Fowler and Rizzo’s presence does not turn Javier Baez into a low strikeout, high walk machine, but their influence can not be underestimated. The Cubs were smart to add a player that brings another dimension that their lineup lacks, even if it is for only one year. His effect could pay off for seasons to come.