Rogers Centre- Credit: DaveMe Images

The Blue Jays’ Love for Derek Fisher

 

The Toronto Blue Jays traded for Derek Fisher last summer and months later he still seems to be part of their future plans

 

 

The Toronto Blue Jays traded for Derek Fisher back in the summer, sending Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini to Houston. It was one of a number of deals that raised some eyebrows across the league in that they were underwhelming to say the least. At the time of the Fisher deal, fans were scratching their heads and not much has changed since.

 

GM, Ross Atkins jumped on the radio waves to spread his excitement over acquiring Fisher. He made some very interesting comments:

It’s hard to find someone like Derek Fisher, so we are elated to have added him. You take a guy who has an above-average run tool, projects from our scouts and defensive metrics to be an average centre-fielder, potentially plus on the corners, he’s going to be an effective baserunner because of the run tool, he has raw power, he has elite plate discipline. You piece all those things into one player, you don’t find that. That’s very difficult to find.

 

It would appear that this front office believes in Fisher moving forward. But, is it warranted? Or, the better question is whether the 26 yr old has lived up to it in his brief time in Toronto. To be fair to Fisher, we should probably look at his entire big league career, including Houston. Where necessary, we’ll dip into his minor league data, but the focus here is his MLB performance, for a very specific reason, which we’ll get to.

 

Defense: If we look at the numbers from his time in Toronto, his defense has actually been fairly good. RF: 136 innings, 1 DRS, 57.9 UZR/150. LF: 706.2 innings, 6 DRS, 7 UZR/150. CF: 91 innings, -1 DRS, -26.9 UZR/150. At first blush, these numbers might lead you to think that Toronto could have a future Gold Glove corner outfielder on their hands. That might be pushing things, but his corner numbers certainly look much better than those from CF.

 

To be fair to Fisher, the numbers in CF are coming in a series of small samples: 2017: 18 innings, -81.1 UZR/150. 2018: 48 innings, 21.4 UZR/150. 2019: 25 innings, -37.3 UZR/150. There is no way a full season would yield a -81 UZR/150 from Fisher, so we can’t really put that much stock in it. In fact, the Blue Jays may very well use that as reason to give him a full year at CF to see what his real performance would yield.

 

Run Tool: Heading back to Fangraphs, Fisher has a BsR (Base running) score of 0.1 in 2019, 1.5 in 2018 and -1.3 in 2017. He stole a total of 10 big league bases over those three seasons, which is to be expected in such limited playing time. Looking at his minor league totals, one sees double digit stolen bases year after year, including 23 in both 2015 and 2016. Perhaps, with more playing time, this element of his game will show.

 

Raw Power: Fangraphs lists Fisher’s Raw Power score a 60/60. His Game Power is a 40/50. In each minor league season since 2015, he has seen double digits in homers, which is usually the last thing in a player’s game to show up at the big league level. He hit 7 dingers between Houston and Toronto with 14 AAA bombs to bring his total to 21. A 20 HR/ 20 SB Cf certainly would look nice in Toronto, no?

 

Plate Discipline: Atkins called Fisher’s plate discipline “elite”. This comment really stands out and the one that needs to really be looked into. His career BB% sits at 10.3%, which is actually fairly good. Let’s go a little deeper shall we?

 

Fisher’s career swing rate: 38.8% (2019 MLB avg: 47%)
SwStr: 13% (2019 MLB avg: 11.2%)
Contact: 66.5% (2019 MLB avg: 76.2%)
O-Swing: 22.6% (MLB avg: 31.6%)
Z-Swing: 59.6% (MLB: 68.5%)
Z-Contact: 75.6% (84.9%)

 

Looking at these numbers, there may actually be something to Atkins’ comments. Fisher swings much less than league average and swings outside of the zone much less often. One would like to see the contact numbers go up, but again, considering we’re working with a small sample size, perhaps there is room for him to use his ‘selectiveness’ (for lack of a better word) to prove his GM correct.

 

I entered this piece kind of baffled why the Toronto Blue Jays valued Derek Fisher as much as they do. When everyone else was scratching their heads over the trade that brought him here, the club’s front office saw something. “…it’s the potential of him being an everyday major-league player.” I really thought that Atkins was trying to put a positive spin on a deal where they got the best they could.

 

However, after looking at things a little closer, it would appear that all Derek Fisher needs is a full season before we can say beyond a shadow of doubt that he isn’t the player the club thinks he is. And, he may just get his shot in 2020 considering the question mark that is the Blue Jays outfield.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.