You can point out any number of players and attribute the Cubs’ second half surge to their performance.
However, would it be possible if it wasn’t for Dexter Fowler putting up the kind of numbers one would expect out of a top-10 player in all of baseball?
Fowler has been the best Cubs player over the last 30 days. His 1.7 fWAR is the eighth highest in baseball during that span. Nelson Cruz, Joey Votto and Chris Davis sit at the top of the top, with each collecting 2.3 fWAR. The only other players ahead of Fowler are Josh Donaldson, A.J. Pollock, David Ortiz and Eric Hosmer. Fowler is in pretty good company with these names.
You can play around with Fangraphs’ leaderboard here.
As for Fowler, his slash line during this stretch: .316/.443/.602 with a .440 wOBA, .286(!) ISO and 185 wRC+ to go along with a 18.0 percent walk rate and 21.3 percent strikeout rate.
Thanks to this run of good fortune, Fowler has seen his slash line go from .235/.321/.368 to a much better .254/.350/.418.
The Cubs’ record during Fowler’s resurgence: 18-9. The offense has averaged 4.9 runs per game — a full run higher than the team’s average prior to July 22.
As a team, the Cubs haven’t seen this kind of production from its center fielder since Jim Edmonds in 2008. Or if we dare think back further, Cubs fans probably haven’t seen this kind of second-half spark from a lead-off man since Kenny Lofton was acquired from the Pirates in July 2003.
(Aside: Lofton was a 2.1 fWAR player for the Cubs after the trade, posting a .327/.381/.471 slash, .367 wOBA and 121 wRC+. He was good. And yet, Fowler is blowing those slash numbers out of the water and is on pace to surpassing Lofton’s fWAR total if he keeps this pace up.)
While Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber knock the ball around the field, Fowler has oftentimes been along for the ride, circling the basepaths.
Fowler’s progression seems to have begun since the team returned from the All-Star Break. His slash since then: .316/.453/.556 with a .431 wOBA, 178 wRC+ and more walks (29) than strikeouts (28).
Fowler’s 1.9 fWAR is tied for seventh best in all of baseball since the All-Star Break.
As a team, the Cubs are 20-11 in the second half. Their 20 wins are but one fewer than the Royals, Cardinals and Blue Jays.
Overall, Fowler has amassed a 2.7 fWAR, which puts him third on the team behind Anthony Rizzo (4.
and Kris Bryant (4.2) and 10th among MLB center fielders.
Back in early July, Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested that the Cubs offense would go only as far lead-off man Dexter Fowler would carry them.
As it turns out, Maddon’s assessment has been spot on as Fowler has taken his game — and the Cubs offense — to another level in the second half of the season.