David Fletcher: Overrated or Underrated?
Los Angeles Angels utility man David Fletcher has become increasingly popular among the fan base. Is he overrated or underrated?
If you’re an Angels fan on social media, you’ve shared or liked a meme about David Fletcher (admit it). The super-utility man has become a fan favorite since showcasing his versatility all over the diamond last season. The local product, who was born in Orange, California and played amateur baseball at Loyola Marymount University, was drafted by the Angels in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact on the fan base.
In the first of a new series that will examine whether Angels players, past or present, are overrated or underrated by Halo fans, David Fletcher offers a unique case as a second-year player who still has a lot to prove.
Last season, Fletcher started at least 18 games at four different positions—third base, second base, shortstop, and left field. He saw the majority of time at the hot corner, a position that will be manned in the future by recent acquisition Anthony Rendon.
Fletcher’s value comes from his ability to not only wear multiple gloves around the diamond, but to field each position extremely well. According to Baseball Savant, he was a positive fielder at three positions last year, adding up to eight outs recorded above average due to his defense.
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Besides catching it, the 5-foot-9 right hander can handle himself at the plate, too. He batted .290/.350/.384 in 653 plate appearances last season. While he rarely hits the ball hard, his ability to make contact and put the ball in play, along with his sneaky speed and a knack for perfectly placed hits, boosts his batting average.
Is David Fletcher overrated by Angels fans?
In some ways, yes. Not many people outside of the Anaheim market would be able to identify him in a lineup. He hasn’t played long enough, or done anything exceptional to warrant national attention. The fact that he is frequently trending on #AngelsTwitter seems to place his local popularity above his actual production.
But when you look at the advanced metrics, and notice he produced 3.4 wins above replacement last season as a utility player, you start to see how he is actually underrated as a player.
Look at it this way, David Fletcher, an uncommon name outside of Orange County households, produced the same value, according to fWAR, as Justin Turner did last season with the Dodgers. Turner hit 27 home runs, compared to Fletcher’s six, and his wRC+ was thirty-three points higher than the Loyola product.
But hitting for power doesn’t tell the whole story. The fact that Brad Ausmus, and now, Joe Maddon, can plug Fletcher into any role and feel comfortable that he will thrive there carries a lot of value, which is why he produced the third most defensive WAR last season.
How Fletcher matures into a player who can do more than just switch gloves will determine his long-term value. But, right now, it’s fair to say the kid who can do everything is underrated outside of Anaheim.