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When will Prince Fielder start hitting like Prince Fielder?

Apr 29, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

Prince Fielder Getty Images

Moving from the Tigers to the Rangers and their hitter-friendly ballpark was supposed to help get Prince Fielder back on track after a solid but unspectacular 2013 season that saw him set career-lows in homers, slugging percentage, and OPS.

Instead he’s off to a terrible start in Texas, hitting .200 with two homers and a .643 OPS through 26 games. Not surprisingly Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters that he’s confident Fielder will turn things around soon:

I don’t lack confidence in Prince Fielder one iota. I don’t care about average. I don’t care that he has two home runs. I don’t care that [catcher Robinson] Chirinos has one RBI more than him. I know you guys are searching to find out. If we knew, we’d have fixed it. We’ve just got to wait. I’ve got patience.

That’s all reasonable and I’m certainly the last person in the world to portray a good hitter’s struggles for the first month of the season as a huge deal, but here’s the thing: Fielder hasn’t been himself for a while now.

Dating back to the beginning of last season he’s now hit .268 with a .358 on-base percentage and .438 slugging percentage in 188 games and 825 plate appearances. Those are decent numbers for some random player, but not for a guy with a $214 million contract and a .550 slugging percentage over the previous six seasons.

Detroit (and now Texas) paid Fielder huge money to put up huge numbers offensively and he’s nearing 200 games of not doing that, which is a big problem for a guy who brings nothing to the table defensively. He’ll no doubt get on track and start producing for the Rangers, but are we nearing the point where it’s reasonable to ask if Fielder’s days of being an elite slugger could be gone?

He’ll turn 30 years old in two weeks and Fielder is under contract for $24 million per season through 2020.

  1. baberuthslegs - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    I want to hear what Washington has to say in September.

    • normcash - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      I want to hear what he says in October if the Rangers make the post-season. Fielder put up
      so-so numbers in both regular seasons with the Tigers but was a total bust in the playoffs.
      Last year, in 11 post-season games in which he played every inning of every game, he didn’t have one single RBI. Then he gave a “Hey, it’s all good…” response as he cleared his locker.
      Reportedly, Dave Dombrowski opposed signing him but owner Mike Ilitch insisted. He isn’t missed in Detroit, I can assure you….

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Maybe you don’t miss him, but I do. Because I don’t judge players by post-season performance alone. That’s the kind of thinking that keeps Phil Coke on the roster.

      • jrbdmb - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Well, if you judge him by recent regular season performance you are one of the few who will miss him in Detroit.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        I don’t. I judge him by overall performance, because any season or post-season can be an aberration — especially one when someone is dealing with an off-the-field issue that involves a teammate. I like him. I am not a fair-weather fan. He may not be the greatest, but he’s a far cry from Don Kelly. And I know I’m not the only fan who misses him, but go on with your negativity. He’s gone; let it go. He’s hardly the sole reason we ended poorly last year.

      • philliesblow - Apr 29, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        ….He may not be the greatest, but he’s a far cry from Don Kelly…

        But is he really?

        Post season career stats:

        Prince Fielder:

        Don Kelly:

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 6:17 PM

        Wow, yeah, again with the post-season obsession. Did you read all that or just look at 2013 again??? How do you not get that you don’t even go to the post-season if you don’t have players doing well during the season — and it wasn’t Kelly’s .652 OPS that got us there. BTW, that’s lower than Fielder’s for ANY SEASON HE’S PLAYED until this year, a month in (and Kelly’s second best EVER). If you seriously prefer Don Kelly, there isn’t even any reasoning with you.

      • whatacrocker - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        His regular seasons were hardly the stuff of legend. 4.7 bWAR in 2012, which–ok–is All-Star level. But then 2.0 in 2013, which is league average.

        Are you really pining for a player that managed to put up one good season while collecting 20M+ a year?.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:48 PM

        Yes, I am. Because I like him and as you noted, he is an All-Star. I think he went through a rough time in Detroit but I’m not going to be a petty little child about the last post-season (as if the bullpen would’ve magically not mattered if Prince alone was better at the plate). I think he was a good element of the team and again NOT the reason we failed in the end. Even in a slump, he was not our weakest link — and certainly not that over two seasons.

        And I’m not even going to bother to address the obvious reality about baseball as a business and salaries as a reflection of the team making money off of you (rather than winning). If you think teams pay guys lots of money only based on their performance on the field, then you don’t understand that it’s a business. You appear to be conflating two different ideas there.

      • Reflex - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:08 PM

        Credibility in this thread was lost when Fielder was compared unfavorably to Don Kelly. Don Kelly over the past two seasons has a -1.6 bWAR. Prince Fielder has a 6.7 bWAR. Which is pretty good. He had some off field issues that affected him. He will get over it. And whoever he is playing for will reap the rewards.

      • whatacrocker - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Hm. You seem to have it in your head that anyone who does not love Prince Fielder is angry about his postseason play. It seems odd to me to completely discount his postseason failures, but whatever. The fact is that he was a decent player for the Tigers for two seasons. Nothing otherworldly, and not the kind of thing that I would expect a fan to latch on to, the way you have. I mean, I doubt Yankees fans are pining for Curtis Granderson, or that Brewers fans are pining for Zack Greinke or Rangers dans whatever.

        And your patronizing tone notwithstanding, a player’s salary does have relevance to a discussion like this. Every team, ultimately, has SOME cap on their available resources. Even Magic Johnson, even Hank Steinbrenner, even Mike “win one before I die” Ilitch. IF a player is taking up a disproportionate segment of the payroll, that affects my value of him, as a fan, because he can and will forestall the possibility of acquiring additional players.

  2. thomas844 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    “When will Prince Fielder start hitting like Prince Fielder?”

    Doesn’t matter. He got his big contract already.

  3. scareduck - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    You get the sense that he’s destined to be something like his dad, given the similarity in their bodies. Cecil failed to provide a single year of 1.0 or above WARP after his age 30 season, and it appears Prince is headed the same way.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Let’s hope his mom contributed some longevity to the genetic mix…

  4. cohnjusack - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Number of articles written about how big, slow first baseman tend to age horribly = Too Many To Count
    Number of times those articles are completely ignored and teams pay the consequences = Too Many To Count

    • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      But you always hope that crazy sexy hot mess is the one.

      • paperlions - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Which big slow 1B are you referring to? The Tigers’ former 1B or their current one?

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        You dated Steve Bilko? Man, you are old.

      • paperlions - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        You live in a place stuck in the 1950s, as far as you are concerned, I haven’t even been born yet.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Why does everyone keep dragging Chanel Fielder into this?

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:42 PM

        Because misandry.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Because there’s nothing misogynists hate worse than the philandry of attractive young women?

      • weaselpuppy - Apr 29, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        Said Avisail Garcia…..

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        How hilarious! It’s the wife that’s terrible — not the teammate who gets involved with a co-worker’s wife when he’s just coming up. He’s a genius and she’s the mess. Definitely.

    • happytwinsfan - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      what about big slow DH’s? at least several years ago ortiz looked to be close to the end because he wasn’t getting around on the fastball and wasn’t getting any younger.

      • cohnjusack - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        slow first baseman tend to age horribly

        regularly or frequently behave in a particular way or have a certain characteristic

        The key word here is tend. Of course there are exceptions: Ortiz, Thome, and Konerko come to mind. But they are the exceptions. A pretty vast majority of these types of players don’t age well.

      • happytwinsfan - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        i prefer to reason by analogy and verify with anecdote. keeps me from getting lost when i have my glasses off.

  5. spudchukar - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    One day after defending Cards’ manager Mike Matheny he blunders in decision after decision.

    If Seth Maness spends one more day in the Bigs I will be shocked.

    The Replay System fails again. Gutless, is the term that comes to mind to describe the review officials.

    • paperlions - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      I’d love to rip Matheny…and he certainly didn’t help….but, you know, if just one guy executes in one of the dozens of chances they had to win the game, none of it matters. If Wacha doens’t walk freaking Bianchi or if he could somehow find a way to get out stalwarts like Overbay or Gennett, if Wacha and Neshek don’t hit guys they are about to K, if Bourjos actually gets the bunt down (not that I was a fan of the call, but he still didn’t execute it well), if one guy gets a freaking hit with one of the kajillion RISP they had…..none of it matters.

      I agree that Maness over Siegrist was weird…and the double switches to weaken the offense and defense were just stupid….but really, the WORST, was not pinch running Bourjos for Holliday…put speed on the bases and then have someone else bunt….how is that not the obvious thing to do?

      • spudchukar - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Lost another long comment to the sorry word press. I’m done.

  6. Pat Richardson - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    He will start hitting like Prince Fielder again in approximately the year 2012.

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      The Mayan Calendar said so.

      • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Piss on the Mayans. They owe me $175. The night of December 21, 2012 I went to a local bar where a bunch of friends were. I kept ordering drinks for people and telling the barkeep to put it on my tab and the Mayans would be there soon to cover the damage. Bastards…

  7. historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Miggy has started slow for the season too. Apparently, the brothers’ separation is affecting them both. Broken hearts, broken BA’s.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Wonder twin powers, deactivated.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Wonderless Twins Blues…

  8. mvp43 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Prince has not been Prince since he left Milwaukee. I don’t blame him for seeking the cash, but he left a pretty good situation there.

  9. papacrick - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    His bat is awfully slow this year and last. Figured the weight loss would get him back in a groove but that appears to be incorrect. Not sure he’ll ever get over his wife banging Avi Garcia. It’s a shame they traded the kid who looks to be a future star

    • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Hopefully the kid learns not to take a dump where he eats.

  10. echech88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Jon Daniels looking awfully human as a GM with this move and the Garza overpay.

    I don’t watch the Rangers enough to know but can any of their fans speak to Prince’s defense at 1B this year or if they’re already starting to DH him? I know what the stats say but is the eye test as bad?

    Maybe he can have a decent career if he can become a star DH like Ortiz but wow these contracts for 1B are turning out to be unbelievably bad.

  11. fm31970 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Wait, I though the was in TBSOHL??

  12. fm31970 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Wait, I thought the was in TBSOHL??

  13. ncp3810 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Good move by the Brewers. Giving the contract to Braun over Fielder was smart. Yeah Braun is hated around the league, but who the hell cares. He is a much better player and will be for the rest of his career.

    • Molitor Fingers Yount - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      Couldn’t agree more. Seemed a little dubious at the time, but a win-win for the Brewers.

  14. sportsnut101 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    At least he doesnt have off the foeld field problems

  15. aceshigh11 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Prince Mendoza.

  16. udkidd - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Ryan Howard
    .245 5 14 .327

    Prince Fielder
    .200 2 8 .327

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      And I thought Craig was the Phillies troll around here…

  17. hcf95688 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Pay him in cheeseburgers. He’ll produce.

  18. kc114 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Does Prince really care? He’s already getting paid. What’s his incentive?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Pride? Love of the Game?

      • kc114 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:59 AM

        Based on his comments after the playoffs last year he doesn’t seem to care. We’d all like to think these guys do care but many unfortunately don’t.

  19. chiadam - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    One day (probably not soon), teams will stop giving out ten year deals that pay hundreds of millions of dollars. Granted, most GMs are idiots. They might need ten or twenty more examples of these contracts never being a good thing, but the day will come. And the only bigger idiot than the man that gives a player this contract is the man that trades for it.

  20. buffalo65 - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    Where are the blue jay fans who were screaming when he didn’t sign?

  21. theRed - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    Not to be the devil’s advocate, but Fielder is in that specific group of players that always annoy the hell out of you in the 1st half. He puts up most of his stats after the All-Star break, and for some reason nil in the playoffs.

    Check his splits. Nothing new here. The question is, when his bat heats up, will his body endure those 7-game homestands of 120-degree hell that breaks this team down every August?

  22. jvinny0501 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    All you Prince defenders please don’t compare Miggy’s slow start with Fielder’s. Prince isn’t near the level of Miggy, and never has been. Many of you sound like Fielder apologist. You make excuses for his poor play, then someone excuses his wife for destroying their family, and blame the rookie. Dombrowski deserves to win executive of the year for pulling off that trade, no matter how much we had to pay Texas to make trade. His love of food is stronger than his love of the game

  23. jvinny0501 - Apr 30, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Fielder is making 24 million a year and some out here excusing his two subpar season’s, 2 horrendous playoff years.
    He’s making superstar money, not small money.

  24. teedraper - May 2, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    When he stops being an idiot to his father! He deserves every slump he gets. Ungrateful idiot.

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