From 2008 – 2010, J.R. Towles put up a .158/.247/.286 line with seven HRs in 275 plate appearances. Of course, he was a massive sleeper going into 2008 based on 44 plate appearances in 2007, during which he went .375/.432/.575.
That’s not exactly fair, as Towles had built a pretty good minor league resume, posting good averages and great on base percentages.
Well don’t look back now, but Towles, in 31 plate appearances this year, has gone .385/.484/.654 with two homers. Is he finally hitting his prime at the ripe age of 27?
The ZiPS projection systems aren’t buying it. (R) has him at .240/.327/.407 on the year with five dingers. (U) has him slightly better: .261/.351/.443 with seven round trippers. Suddenly, we have a cheap catcher who is putting up a great on base percentage.
Can he be anything else?
In the minors, Towles didn’t strike out a ton, however he routinely posted 25+% K-rates in the majors. So far, he’s only striking out 15.4% of the time. He has also decreased his swinging strike percentage by four percent (almost half) and is making a decent amount more contact than in the past.
Obviously, not all contact is created equal. He has a 31.8 line drive percentage, more than double his career line. He is also hitting more ground balls and significantly less fly balls. Currently, 33.3% of his fly balls have left the yard – that won’t continue. Nor will his 11.1 infield hit percentage.
So the power profile he’s put up isn’t realistic whatsoever. However, I still think he can get to double digits and post a decent average for a catcher. In reality, his value will come in OBP leagues.
I wouldn’t at all be surprised at a .270/.360/.430 guy.