Curtis Granderson still brings a higher consensus ranking and far more name recognition than another outfielder on a new team, Dexter Fowler, even though 2013 was a lost season for Granderson. ESPN ranks them relatively closely, Granderson checking in as the 33rd outfielder, 149th player overall. Fowler is 38th and 163rd, respectively. Over at Mock Draft Centeral the gap is far wider, Granderson at 32/105 and Fowler all the way down at 60/230 (behind Cameron Maybin? Really??). In FantasyGameday’s early twelve-team mock Granderson came off the board at (9,9) while midway through Round Fifteen Fowler is still available.
Fowler’s clearest advantage over Granderson is his ability to hit for average. The Astro has a .270 career mark and has never finished a full season below .260. Granderson is a .261 career hitter, but he hit .232 in 2012 and .229 last year. Not coincidentally his strikeout rate soared over 28% in those seasons. His batted ball data does not support a high BABIP as his GB/FB ratio hovered between 0.60 and 0.70 for the last five years.
Both players are moving to below average offensive teams meaning their runs scored and RBI opportunities could slip appreciably. Granderson had consecutive 100/100 seasons in 2011 and 2012, but no Met has reached the century mark in either category since Jose Reyes crossed home 101 times in 2011. Fowler is penciled into the leadoff spot, providing him with more opportunities. He also enjoys more than a .050 advantage in OBP the last two years. Granderson will drive in more, but Fowler can easily erase that edge by beating him in runs.
Granderson eclipsed 40 HR twice recently but he is playing under new conditions this year. New Yankee Stadium increases the home run rate for left-handers by 14% while Citi Field is neutral over the last three seasons. His ISO displayed a wide home/road split in his last healthy year at .301/.223. .223 is nothing to sneeze at, but of seven qualified hitters who fell between .220 and .229 in 2013 only one exceeded 30 HR. The others hit 24, 27, 24, 23, 29, and 25. The two projections released on Fangraphs peg him for 24 and 19. Fowler has stabilized his HR/FB over 10%, but is still looking at only 10-15 in an average year. Give Granderson the edge, but only by five or ten gophers.
Three years ago Granderson held a decided edge in steals too, but that is not an advantage anymore. Last year Fowler’s plate appearances decreased but he upped his steals from twelve to nineteen. In Granderson’s case only four players over 33 stole more than 20 bases last year. Nobody on the list was near their career high. While Houston was only 11th in steals, they attempted the fourth most. Fowler is in a good place to use his wheels.
If both players are healthy and there is no skill drop off a reasonable case could be made for either to be ranked higher. Granderson is 33 though, and coming off two major hand injuries. Fowler is 28, still in his prime, and far more likely to hold steady or find a new peak.