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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Brown: Struggles at the plate wear on Fielder

Cue the Dan Plesac “The big fella’s gonna have a big year in Texas” endless tape loop.

Except, well, and there’s hardly getting around it, he’s been pretty awful as a Ranger so far. He followed that .225-hitting, no-homer, no-RBI October in Detroit with a .206-hitting, two-homer, nine-RBI April in Arlington. For all the conversation about Fielder at Globe Life Park, and the big bats that would cover for the thin pitching, the Rangers have been at best an average offensive team that has out-homered only the Kansas City Royals. Plenty of the blame has fallen to Fielder, which is fair, because he’s better than this. More was expected.

Rather than ride that Arlington right center-field wind shear to career resumption, he’s pounded ground balls into defensive shifts, and has been pitched around anyway (his nine intentional walks lead the game), and has adjusted everything from the way he loads his hands to his toe tap. And still, he has very little, if anything, to show for it.

“Strugglin’,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “That’s it.”

A new city, a new team, settling in, finding his way around, trying to come out of an ordinary slump in a single extraordinary at-bat, that it?

“I don’t know,” Washington said. “I just don’t see the Prince swing we’re used to seeing. It’s just not there right now. … It’s gotta start soon. He’s not no .200 hitter. He’s a power hitter who can hit. It’s gotta start soon.”

Fielder’s thoughts exactly. He shows up, he works, and he hits .037 in day games, and .179 with runners in scoring position, and .206 against righties, and nothing feels wildly different but the results. He’s the same guy with the same swing who hit seven home runs and drove in 27 runs last April, who hit .337 just last September. And, yet, here he is.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s just the way it is. I don’t look too deep into it. If it was June or July, you probably wouldn’t notice it.”

It’s been suggested he try to beat the shifts by volleying pitches the other way.

“As far as trying to patty-cake it, manipulate the ball, that’s not me,” he said. “If there’s no shortstop in sight, maybe. But I still gotta go try to be me. I can’t finesse a ball and be me. I’m just basically trying to feel good. When I feel good, good things happen.”

Repoz Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:19 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rangers

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   1. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:47 AM (#4699907)
Fhor all the conversation about Fielder at Globe Life Park

"Globe Life Park"? When did that happen?

Another Dave Dombrowski trade that seems to be going well for the Tigers. Ian Kinsler (who they got in return for Fielder) and Nick Castellanos (who effectively took Fielder's place) have been pretty decent. Even Rajai Davis, who took the LF spot that might otherwise have been Castellanos's has been surprisingly good for the season's first month.

Yeah, there was a lot of money involved, and you can't ignore that, but if the Tigers still had Fielder at 1B and Cabrera at 3B, Castellanos in LF and [fill in the blank] at 2B, I can't imagine they'd be doing better than they are right now.
   2. BDC Posted: May 04, 2014 at 09:11 AM (#4699911)
Kinsler had a good April, for sure, but with Kinsler it's a matter of when he'll miss a month of play with some ailment, not if. Unless he's somehow found the Paul Molitor golden ticket to increasing durability with age :)

That said, Fielder has been a dead loss. It's the curse of Mitch Moreland, the guy has some talisman or something that causes every other first baseman the Rangers ever get to play worse than he does. And meanwhile the logic behind trading Kinsler – that the Rangers were flush with middle infielders – has evaporated with Andrus in a ghastly slump, Profar on the 60-day DL, and the slack taken up by a crew of Cubs castoffs and others. What a distressing sport to follow :)
   3. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 04, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4699916)
I just don’t see the Prince swing we’re used to seeing.

True that. He hasn't had a really good album since "Emancipation", and that was almost 20 years ago! (I liked "Musicology" and "Planet Earth" wasn't bad, but "Sign o' the Times" they weren't...)
   4. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4699918)
I expected Fielder to crap out early and I thought his contract was hilariously bad, but this is much sooner than I expected. Yet somehow the Tigers have wriggled out of the strait jacket. AGAIN.
   5. JE (Jason) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4699941)
Fielder would look great in pinstriped loafers.
   6. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: May 04, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4699962)

“I don’t know,” Washington said. “I just don’t see the Prince swing we’re used to seeing. It’s just not there right now. … It’s gotta start soon. He’s not no .200 hitter. He’s a power hitter who can hit. It’s gotta start soon.”

Fielder’s thoughts exactly. He shows up, he works, and he hits .037 in day games, and .179 with runners in scoring position, and .206 against righties, and nothing feels wildly different but the results. He’s the same guy with the same swing who hit seven home runs and drove in 27 runs last April, who hit .337 just last September. And, yet, here he is.


Wait, so is it the same swing, or not?
   7. bobm Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4699968)
Prince has never been a consistently great April hitter, per tOPS+. His April 2014 BAbip was .224.

Prince Fielder Year-by-Year splits: April/March

Year   G  GS  PA HR  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS BAbip tOPS+

2006  25  24 105  5  25 .344 .400 .552  .952 .424 130
2007  25  24 114  6  22 .270 .351 .520  .871 .288  73
2008  27  27 117  4  16 .250 .368 .446  .813 .247  87
2009  22  22  99  3  27 .234 .384 .442  .825 .306  67
2010  23  23 105  2  24 .244 .381 .360  .741 .317  71
2011  26  26 114  6  12 .333 .421 .626 1.047 .333 112
2012  22  22  93  3  15 .309 .387 .444  .832 .344  78
2013  25  25 115  7  24 .301 .417 .591 1.009 .328 144

2014  28  28 121  2  15 .206 .331 .314  .644 .224 103

 CAR 223 221 983 38 180 .277 .381 .479  .861 .309  90

   8. Swoboda is freedom Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4699975)
At least when he is not hitting, he still helps the team with his defence and baserunning.
   9. BDC Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4700044)
And as always seems to happen after a "he's through" story, Fielder has two doubles and two RBI in two AB today.
   10. Bhaakon Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4700062)

And as always seems to happen after a "he's through" story, Fielder has two doubles and two RBI in two AB today.


They should just stick with "he's fat" stories. It's not like he's going to walk into the clubhouse down two pants sizes the next day.
   11. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4700066)
I really thought that at least for this year the move to Texas would rejuvenate a Prince. So far I'm very wrong.
   12. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 04, 2014 at 10:26 PM (#4700160)
bobm, in the table in #7, does tOPS+ represent his April split compared to his entire season? (So the 103 for this year just means that his first few days of May were even worse than his April?)

The thing I see in that table, other than the .224 BABip that you pointed out, is that even though he's usually a slow starter, he's never been close to this bad. Career lows in AVG, OBP, and SLG -- all by a significant amount -- and tied for a career low in HR, despite a career high in games and a supposedly favorable home park. The only good thing is that he's not striking out much.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:00 PM (#4700167)
Prince raised his ops .055 today...

Maybe it's just a slow start.
   14. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4700171)
Those don't seem like terribly slow starts to me.
   15. bobm Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:37 PM (#4700176)
[12]

does tOPS+ represent his April split compared to his entire season? (So the 103 for this year just means that his first few days of May were even worse than his April?)

Yes, as far as I can tell.

                                                        
Split         GS  PA  AB   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  tOPS+
April/March   28 121 102 .206 .331 .314 .644    103
May            2   8   8 .250 .250 .250 .500     58
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:51 PM (#4700177)
Those don't seem like terribly slow starts to me.

I think the idea is that they were "slow" in comparison to what Prince would deliver the rest of the season. In most cases, except for this year and possibly 2010, they were still quite good Aprils in the context of "all of MLB."


The problem now is that even if he improves on his April by 40% or so, it's going to be a pretty mediocre season.
   17. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:54 PM (#4700179)
At least when he is not hitting, he still helps the team with his defence and baserunning.

OK, this made me smile.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:55 PM (#4700180)
Must not be any good vegetarian restaurants in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex.
   19. bobm Posted: May 05, 2014 at 12:07 AM (#4700181)
[12] The thing I see in that table, other than the .224 BABip that you pointed out, is that even though he's usually a slow starter, he's never been close to this bad.

He has had roughly 10 separate occasions where his batting average in previous 100 at-bats was below .210 (if my analysis is correct).

   20. cardsfanboy Posted: May 05, 2014 at 12:52 AM (#4700188)
He has had roughly 10 separate occasions where his batting average in previous 100 at-bats was below .210 (if my analysis is correct).


That is the thing about a slow start, statistically it may not be an unusual occurrance for that particular player, but because it happens when people are mostly looking (especially a new acquisition with a huge contract) that it stands right out there.

I'm pretty sure Fielder is going to be overpaid for the life of his contract and possibly worthless in the last two years of it, but it's still too early in this contract for me to think he has cratered (I also say the same thing about guys like Pujols etc.)
   21. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 05, 2014 at 01:50 AM (#4700191)
I'm pretty sure Fielder is going to be overpaid for the life of his contract and possibly worthless in the last two years of it, but it's still too early in this contract for me to think he has cratered (I also say the same thing about guys like Pujols etc.)

I agree with you there. I think he'll end up with good (but not superstar) offensive numbers this year -- somewhere between his 2012 and 2013, but closer to 2013.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: May 05, 2014 at 03:18 AM (#4700194)
I think prince is going to go out there, and when all is said and done, produce roughly 30 rBat.... we'll argue his value to the team later, but he's going to be a plus, plus offensive player when it's all said and done this season.
   23. Sunday silence Posted: May 05, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4700239)
is babip really a good way to measure someone's luck or bad luck in this case? The conventional wisdom is that babip is supposed to hold up uniformly in which case the conclusion would be that Fielder's luck and batting average should be ready to turn.

But obviously babip isnt uniform at least for batters. And it does seem to be correlated with how hard someone hits the ball. At some pt. doesnt babip work in the opposite direction? I.e. that Fielder is cooked rather than Fielder's luck is bound to change?
   24. Curse of the Andino Posted: May 05, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4700244)
Weirdly, Nelson Cruz for the O's has started off a lot better than I expected. Pretty much the only dude on the team who's hitting other than Weiters. (Speaking of Rangers.)
   25. The Good Face Posted: May 05, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4700262)
It's the curse of Mitch Moreland


I KNEW that was a thing!
   26. Squash Posted: May 05, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4700375)
Forget Prince, what's up with Miggy? He hasn't hit since August of last year. I don't think either guy is cratering, but given the body types we're talking about there is some room for concern.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: May 05, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4700655)
is babip really a good way to measure someone's luck or bad luck in this case?

Depends how you define "luck". Variation in BABIP probably is tied to periods of not hitting the ball hard but these periods seem to come and go in a roughly random fashion.

Prince's career BABIP is 302. Last year it was 307. Over the last 4 years it was 307. A 253 BABIP in his last 95 BIP is really, really likely to just be a blip. He's also hitting a ton of GB at the moment.

Which isn't to say there aren't some troubling recent numbers in his components. His HR/FB has gone 16.2, 11.4, 9.6, 5.3. If current trends continue he'll be Duane Kuiper by 2016!
   28. Sunday silence Posted: May 06, 2014 at 01:44 AM (#4700937)
post no. 7 says his babip is .224 for this year. So I dunno I guess we need more data pts but at some pt there will come a time when his luck wont change. I just wonder if there is any way to get a more precise determination on when that is.
   29. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: May 06, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4701002)
Brown: Struggles at the plate wear on Fielder


Not the dinner plate, obviously.

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