One of the most frustrating parts of the Cardinals’ 3-9 start was the struggles of newly-signed Dexter Fowler. Billed in the offseason as the key cog in the relentless offensive machine that was the 2016 Chicago Cubs, Fowler’s struggles stood out among a team of struggling offensive players Joe Maddon famously coined the catch phrase “You go, we go” which referenced Fowler’s impact on the Cubs as a whole.
At the start of the season, Fowler wasn’t going, and neither were the Cardinals.
In his first 54 plate appearances, Fowler slashed an abysmal .143/.222/.163, and posted a wRC+ of 9. In context, Fowler was 91% below league average in that category. Furthermore, his strikeout rate was close the 30%, and he had struck out twice or more in half of the Cardinals’ games.
Since then, Fowler has gone on a tear. His OBP since the Cardinals were swept by the Yankees is .386, pretty darn close to that .393 OBP that made the Cubs tick a year ago.
He’s hit for power, too. His .586 SLG over that span would be far-and-away the best of his career; he’s never slugged over .474, and half those games came at Coors Field. While that slugging percentage may be unsustainable, it shows he’s been hitting the ball with authority, not flipping weak singles over the infield.
Fowler has put the ball in play more, and started drawing walks. His BB% went from 7% in the first 12 games to 15% since. His strikeout rate, an absurdly high 29% after 54 plate appearances, was just 19% over his next 78.
You don’t really need to look at the numbers to see that Fowler has been a better hitter, the eye test will work just fine. What you might not see is how his success has impacted the Cardinals offense.
Over the last 25 games, Fowler has scored or driven in a total of 25 runs. As a team, the Cardinals have scored 126 runs in that span. That means Fowler has “created” just under 20% of the Cardinals’ runs, in a time when the Cardinals have gone 18-7 and surged into first place in the NL Central.
I use the term “created” loosely. Runs scored and RBI’s don’t tell the whole story behind a player’s offensive performance. Someone could smash a 100 MPH double off the wall, be stranded, and get neither a run scored or an RBI. On the other hand, a bases loaded broken-bat single could result in 2 RBI’s. A homer by the following hitter means a run scored. However, in Fowler’s case, runs and RBI’s show that he’s been one of the main reasons behind the Cards’ offensive success.
Its clear. “You go, we go” has made its way to St. Louis.