Jays From the Couch looks at the potential value that outfielder, Derek Fisher, has for the Toronto Blue Jays
It’s no secret that some fans are still on the fence about the return for the Aaron Sanchez trade. I mean, the talk about Houston fixing the right-hander has quieted down after his two most recent outings (7.2 IP, 9 ER, 5 HR, 4 BB, 4 Ks). And especially since Sanchez has been placed on the IL with a sore pectoral. But the aforementioned return hasn’t been performing well either… or has he?
Derek Fisher is 26 years old and not exactly a prospect anymore. He was a middling outfielder that the Houston Astros used on their taxi squad. The trade left fans scratching their heads, but Fisher does have redeeming qualities if put in the right position. With four more years of control after this year, the Jays will need to find Fisher playing time as he’s out of options. The onus ultimately falls onto the player to produce, but it’s also the responsibility of the team to put their players in positions to succeed.
It’s in small sample size, but since 2018 Fisher has hit LHP very well. In fact, his splits are quite remarkable. In 63 plate appearances, Fisher has managed to hit .296/.365/.593 against left-handers and .140/.213/.310 against right-handers over the same period of time in 141 PA. These sort of splits for a lefty are unusual as it’s always often the other way around. For whatever reason Fisher has been able to put up all star-like numbers left on left and recently have success against even Clayton Kershaw.
Looking over his last few games played, they’ve been starts exclusively when the other team sends a left-handed starter to the mound. Maybe this is what the Jays saw in him. The potential to play all three OF positions, hit well against LHP and pinch-run when not in the lineup.
The Jays haven’t been afraid to platoon players in the past and its paid dividends. With the bullpen being what it is in today’s MLB (a taxi squad for the most part), it’s just smart to try to optimize your roster. Early on in 2018, the Blue Jays ran a platoon between Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson that performed really well.
The Blue Jays also did this with Adam Lind way back when. And maybe this comparison is one that’ll give us some more perspective. Lind batted .327/.395/.537 for a 157 wRC+ in 702 PA against RHP the last two years he was with the Jays. Then they sent him to the Brewers in a trade for the recently retired Marco Estrada! The Blue Jays took Lind and rehabbed his career in AAA and then put him in a position to succeed. Estrada wasn’t anything special when the Jays acquired him, but he was a guy that had value and had put up decent numbers.
I didn’t want this to be about Sanchez, but he and Fisher will be tied together forever by fans. That’s how much Sanchez used to mean to this team. But what if the Jays’ front office looked at Fisher’s underlying numbers and his raw talent and determined he was a better bet? With Fisher, the team has until 2025 to figure it out. Sanchez only had a year and a half of control left. A decision needed to be made soon. And if he rebounded Sanchez would have been tough to extend with Scott Boras as his agent.
When I first suggested this on the Locked on Blue Jays Podcast last, host AJ Andrews asked me who the other side of the platoon would be and I drew a blank. We both did, actually and shared a laugh because I hadn’t thought that far ahead and probably should have. Here are some free-agent options and their stats against RHP the last three years.
* Last two seasons
Some of these players in the are less likely than others to join the Jays, but all would benefit being played in a platoon.
You’d think that the Jays would have an outfielder like this already in their system and kinda. But I’m not sure how much confidence I have in Billy Mckinney. His strikeout rate is concerning and he’s yet to show much consistency, but he would definitely be the cheaper option.
Now, the trade wasn’t just Sanchez for Fisher and I agree that they gave up too much to get Fisher. I’m not arguing that at all. Just trying to give perspective and highlight how Fisher has been and can be useful to this team moving forward.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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