Two months ago Dexter Fowler couldn’t get a table at Steak and Shake, and in our most Philadelphians of ways we almost wrote off what’s turning into a very solid season. On Thursday night after Fowler commented on Tommy Pham’s massive home run and discussed his version of events via Dexcast, he was asked about his own performance. He stated that for the first time he feels completely healthy, entering the year on a high from a great season the year previous he was finally feeling 100%. Paraphrasing, the emotional high from last year’s title campaign floated him thru a dismal start and nagging injuries.
The numbers as of late would certainly indicate Dexter is feeling much better. He is hitting a blazing .452 during the month of August, with 7 strikeouts to 11 walks in 31 at bats, which includes 11 runs and 11 RBI, while toting a murderous 1.434 OBPS. This my friends is what we call, hot… Inferno.
It took Dex some time to get out of the gate. He started his tenure in St. Louis walking into a somewhat hostile environment on the heels of his comments regarding President Trump’s proposed band of immigrants. Fowler, who is married to an Iranian woman, took to Twitter to express his feelings regarding the topic, which he is well within his rights to do; and in turn was roasted by a sea of red that could have easily been confused with sharks looking for blood, not fans. Fowler went on to say, “The question was asked out of empathy toward my family. I appreciate that. If anybody is asking about my family, then I’m going to let them know. Obviously it affected my family. My wife’s Iranian.” “Baseball’s Best Fans” Twitter account took it next level, which prompted Fowler’s response below.
For the record. I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy, but athletes are humans, and not properties of the team they work for.
That whole land of the free and freedom of speech thing seemed to miss some of Dexter’s would-be fans. He seems like a guy that’s hard to not like irrelevant of his political views. I’m certain I would feel the same if my wife was an Iranian immigrant. John Mozeliak publicly stood by Fowler. He diffused the situation, gave Fowler the respect he deserved as an American with the freedom to share his opinion, a ballplayer and more importantly a man. This was not likely the warm welcome the Fowler family was hoping for when they left the much more liberal town of Chicago, IL. But that’s a conversation for another time. Back on task…
Once that was behind us, baseball started and fans pounced on Fowler’s slow start. Instantly Jason Heyward comparisons were in full gear and the radio air waves ran rampant with pissed off fans wondering why the Cardinals hadn’t signed Mickey Mantle or Superman.
Eventually the Cardinals started winning, people took deeper breaths, and with the assistance of many other players, Tommy Pham, Jedd Gyorko, Paul Dejong, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong to name a few, the bats got warm but what stood out was Mike Matheny’s ability to move Carpenter away from the lead-off spot and put Fowler, a true lead-off man there.
The off-season signing the fans seemingly settled for may turn out to be one of the better signings for the organization in years. Fowler’s ability to get on base in a variety of ways, add some pop and not be a liability on the field are huge. Notice I didn’t say be a great outfielder, because he doesn’t have to be great outfielder. He just needs to not lose games out there. For years, the Cardinals have had one of the weaker defensive outfields. Dexter, who is very good in the field doesn’t need to be Jim Edmonds, he just needs to not be Jim Abbott. No offense to Jim Abbott. Full offense to the Matt Holliday, Chris Duncan, Matt Adams and toss in another 4 or 5 guys over the past decade.
After watching Holliday run around out there I was open to the return of Juan Encarnacion with half an eye, Scott Spiezio with a drug problem and So Taguchi with a .202 batting average. For the next five years, the Cardinals should be in better hands defensively.
In just the first year of his five-year deal, the best may be yet to come. We now see Fowler’s numbers coming to light, and starting to trend beyond his career averages. He is only two home runs and four RBI shy of his career highs with 39 games left to play. If the Cardinals are going to take the National League Central Division this year, it’s going to start at the top. It’s Showtime, Dexter.