Originally posted on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 6/4/12

On June 20th of last year, the Colorado Rockies Dexter Fowler and his .688 OPS were sent down to AAA. He had been dealing with an abdominal injury and was struggling mightily from the left side of the plate. This marked the second time in two years that Fowler, a natural righty who only started switch hitting upon his arrival to pro ball, had been sent down to work on his left handed swing. So far, it seems like that work has paid off, as he has caught fire the last few weeks.

Surely most of you have noticed Fowler’s meteoric rise in ownership the past week or so (up 66.1% in ESPN leagues), but one of my favorite Twitter follows, @GiantsNirvana, pointed out something that many of you probably had not noticed: in the second half of last year and through June 2nd this year (which adds up to 447 plate appearances), Fowler is hitting a combined .291/.385/.536. He is now approaching a full season’s worth of all-star level production since his latest demotion. He went nuts in May, with an OPS of 1.152 for the month, and he now finds himself with the 10th best OPS in all of baseball as of June 3rd.

What does all of this mean for fantasy owners? I myself went out and picked up Fowler last week, hoping for some short term help while Matt Kemp recovers from his hamstring injury. But is it possible that Fowler has finally turned the corner and is someone that could actually be a long term answer for fantasy owners? There are a few things that have me thinking that it is a real possibility.

While Fowler may not be one of the first names that comes to mind when you think about plate discipline, he has actually been one of the more patient hitters in baseball this year, only swinging at 21% of pitches out of the zone, good for ninth in baseball. His walk rate of  14% is also in the top 15 among qualified hitters. Fowler is making good contact when he swings at strikes too, connecting on 84.8% of his swings at pitches in the zone.

So clearly Fowler is showing good plate discipline, but what else is working for him? He has been hitting the ball out of the ball park. His eight home runs so far this season are already a career high. This power spike is due to a completely unsustainable 25.8% HR/FB ratio and half of his home runs have come in the last 15 days. And while no one is suggesting Fowler will continue hitting home runs at this pace, perhaps he has reached the point where he can be a 10-15 home run kind of player. What is interesting is that all of his home runs have come from the left side. In fact, in his career to date, he has 20 home runs from the left side and only 3 from the right side. Clearly he has more power from his non-natural side, and his numbers right-handed have actually gotten worse each year. This year is no exception, as he is hitting a putrid .204/.304/.306 as a righty. The good news, of course, is that there are always fewer left-handed pitchers than right-handed, meaning Fowler’s new found platoon split may actually help his fantasy owners.

While outfield is a fairly deep position, most ESPN standard leagues roster five outfielders which means Fowler is a must add in all formats. If you still have the opportunity to grab him, do so quickly.

Finally Healthy

Many heads were scratched when San Diego made a trade for Carlos Quentin this offseason and things did not get off to a good start when Quentin tore his meniscus and missed most of the first two months. Now that he is healthy, he has come of the DL red hot and fantasy owners have reacted appropriately, driving his ownership up 69.6% in ESPN leagues this week. I would temper my enthusiasm though, as he will play his home games in the place where home runs go to die, Petco Park. Additionally, power has been pretty much his only contribution to fantasy teams the last three years. He will certainly be a huge upgrade in the San Diego lineup, but his fantasy impact will likely be limited once he cools down a bit. However, if the Padres do what I suspect they might and move him for prospects at the deadline, his value could go way up in a new park playing for a better offense.

The Tank

Dayan Viciedo has become something of a legend in the South Side as well as the subject of more than a few Hawk Harrelson outbursts. No one can deny the power — 12 home runs in 49 games — and it is coming at a  ridiculous 27.9% HR/FB ratio. Though eventually he has slow down, he has shown no signs of doing so thus far. The one black mark on his resume to this point is the strikeouts. A notoriously free swinger, The Tank is living up to his reputation so far, racking up 40 strikeouts to only 4 walks this season. If you have him on your team right now, see if you can manage a sell high deal before opposing pitchers start to figure him out.

 

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