2013 Stats: .279/.362/.457, 25 HR, 106 RBI (with Tigers)
Salary: $24 million ($24 million each year through 2020)
Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this week we look at the Rangers’ most expensive player, Prince Fielder.
Last season was the worst for Prince since 2010 (both seasons he accumulated 1.7 rWAR), and was the lowest slugging percentage (.457) of his career. His 120 OPS+ was also the lowest since 2006, and his 25 homeruns were a career low.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Fielder struggled in the postseason as he hit .225/.311/.250 with only one extra-base hit. The Detroit Tigers’ frustration has become a gain for the Rangers as these struggles allowed for the offseason trade of Kinsler for Fielder.
Career: Fielder’s career slash line is .286/.389/527. His OBP is 10th in the league among active players (Shin-Soo Choo is ninth) while his OPS is 12th in the MLB. Fielder’s 285 home runs are more than Darryl Strawberry (280), Jose Canseco (276), Barry Bonds (259) and Eddie Murray (258) at this point in their careers (age 29). He averages 35 homeruns, 33 doubles, 101 RBI and 141 OPS+. The 141 OPS+ ranks him sixth among active players behind only Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.
2014 season: Projections have Fielder as the Rangers’ best hitter: .276/.378/.488 with 30 homeruns and 101 RBI. Overall, projects Prince to be value at 2.6 wins, which would rank fifth on the team among position players.
Many fans worry about Prince’s weight combined with playing an entire summer in the Texas heat, but he is the most durable player in the game as he has never played less than 157 games in a season. To further address the point, four of the previous five seasons, Fielder has played the full 162-game season (he played in 161 games in 2010).
After last season’s struggles, look for Prince to bounce back in 2014 as a player motivated to get back to All-Star form. Adrian Beltre thinks he can even do better:
“He’s going to get the MVP,” Beltre said during the club’s awards gathering at the Gaylord Texan. “It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there.”
Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler are all gone. Now, there is a new Prince in town.