St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Pham should play CF over Dexter Fowler
The St. Louis Cardinals have an overstocked outfield with one surprising player outpacing the supposed starter. A shakeup is needed.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler during the offseason as a way to add a spark to the lackluster 2016 team. Fowler’s long contract was supposed to secure speed and energy and a skilled center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Then this year occurred. Fowler, to his credit, hasn’t been terrible but has been battling a heel injury. We can safely stay there and avoid attacking his defense outright.
Additionally, Fowler was added to bring some pop to the lineup. Under Mike Matheny‘s inept leadership and pitiful hitting coaching by John Mabry, Fowler- a typical power threat in the lead-off spot- floundered there and most recently was moved to the number three spot to help the also-slumping Matt Carpenter return to his head-space-comfortable lead-off position.
These changes have helped but not the degree that the St. Louis Cardinals would have liked. Quickly let me add that Carp should remain in the lead-off spot but I’m not sold that Fowler should be the number three hitter. Potentially more on that later.
Let’s jump back to the defensive metrics. My gut had been telling me for a while that it might serve the St. Louis Cardinals better if Fowler were not patrolling center field. This morning, a huge shout-out to Cardinals Metrics, I saw this tweet that solidified my opinion:
Based on this metric alone, wouldn’t it make better sense to put Tommy Pham in center and allow Fowler to slide to one of the corner spots? I would be more comfortable with the six defensive runs saved of Pham over the negative 13 runs saved by Fowler. Negative. Let me say again, negative!
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign catcher Willson Contreras
If we look at offense, Pham is outpacing Fowler as well in BAbip. Through 277 plate appearances, Pham owns a .379 batting average on balls in play. That is a GREAT number. And Fowler? Through 325 plate appearances, Fowler owns a .271 BAbip. This advanced metric alone indicates that Pham is playing better than Fowler even when considering the larger sample size of Fowler.
Let’s look at one more advanced batting metric– ISO. This statistic considers only extra base hits. Fowler currently sits with a .215 while Pham owns a .220. Notice that Pham is hitting with greater pop but not by much.
Jumping to the chase, I am not advocating that Fowler be removed from games as I really like his play and his bat in the lineup. I am, however, advocating that Fowler NOT bat third and NOT play center.
I think there is a great deal of value in an experiment wherein Fowler bats lower in the lineup (taking the pressure of the three hole off his back) and wherein he patrols left or right field. In the same experiment, Pham would patrol center and would either continue to bat second or try him at the three spot.
What would the St. Louis Cardinals have to lose through such an experiment? Not much at this point in the season.
Oh, and perhaps moving Fowler to one of the corner spots could open the center field job for Christian Yelich should the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins arrange a trade before the deadline. Perhaps.
Your turn; what would you do based on these stats? Would you move Fowler despite his saying he came to play center? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know. Thanks for reading!