Inside the Blue Jays’ outfield Part Three: Derek Fisher

In this installment of Inside the Outfield, we look at the newly acquired Derek Fisher and if he has a spot on the Jays in the future

Derek Fisher was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 31 from the Houston Astros. Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle

Derek Fisher has only been a Toronto Blue Jay for the better part of six weeks, acquired from the Houston Astros in a deal that saw pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini head the other way.

Evidenced by the price paid to get him, Fisher was someone the Jays brass had been targeting for some time.

“He couldn’t fit better with our young core right now,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a post-trade conference call. “Everything about his track record suggests he is a great fit for us.”

Since being drafted in 2014, Fisher has spent the majority of his career in the minors with only 395 plate appearances (141 games) in parts of three seasons in the big-leagues. 

Should He Stay?

The expectation is clearly there from the front office, but has the 26-year-old played up to par so far in a Jay uniform? 

Offensively, it hasn’t all gone smoothly, but there have been positives. Among the Jays’ current outfielders who have at least 100 plate appearances this year, Fisher has the highest BB% (walk rate).

Derek Fisher14312.6
Teoscar Hernandez4129.5
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.3216.2
Randal Grichuk5656.0

Since the trade, the Lebanon, Pennsylvania, native has improved to 13.3 BB% with the Jays, ranking him third on the team behind only Cavan Biggio (17.2) and Justin Smoak (16.4) – albeit in only 83 appearances at the plate. 

So Fisher gets walked a lot. But with that number, his OBP is relatively low at .277, and the other facets of his game, both offensively and defensively, haven’t lived up to the high expectations placed on him so far in Toronto.

He has a 38.6 K%, by far the worst on the team with a minimum of 80 PA, is hitting at a below-average .167 clip, and his wOBA (.290) and wRC+ (78) leave something to be desired.

Should He Go?

On the defensive side of the ball, he hasn’t been as effective as his teammates.

Derek Fisher190.2.957-0.3
Teoscar Hernandez877.0.987-0.3
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.608.1.985-0.5
Randal Grichuk1105.1.996-0.5

And though all four have a negative dWAR (defensive wins above replacement), Fisher is the only one who doesn’t have a positive WAR overall due to his lack of offence.

Atkins said he sees Fisher fitting in with the team’s young core, and since the deal, he’s been given every opportunity.

If the team believes Fisher still holds the potential of a 37th overall pick, and have seen him gel with the rest of the roster despite the numbers not being there, there’s a good chance he’ll stick around for next year.

The Verdict Is…

It all comes down to the team’s priorities. If they’re content on letting their young players continue to get experience while not worrying too much about their spot in the standings, chances are he stays and gets another chance to show what he can do.

After being so bullish on him when making the trade, it’s hard to see Atkins giving up on Fisher so quickly with such a small sample size. His speed is an asset both around the bases and in the outfield, and there’s potential with his power.

But with the influx of young talent on the Jays’ roster, there’s a chance they want to become competitive in the league sooner rather than later. And in that case, Fisher needs to step up his game quickly if he wants to be part of the long-term solution.

If not, he’ll simply be a placeholder.

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Posted: Sep 12 2019 9:22 pm
Filed under: Baseball Sports