Wait…what happens to Ken Singleton’s “Prince Fielder is the MVP maker because of the protection he provides” jazz?
For as good as Cabrera has been this season, his counterpart on the other hot corner of the diamond, Prince Fielder, has been as disappointing. In only his second season with the Tigers, Fielder has been subpar in comparison to the rest of his career. Currently, Fielder has 17 home runs, a .175 ISO, and a 117 wRC+, which all fall well below his career averages in those categories. Given that the big first baseman doesn’t provide much value in his defense of base running, if he doesn’t contribute at the plate, he becomes incredibly overpaid space filler.
...ZIPS projects Fielder to improve down the stretch, predicting him to finish the season with a 128 wRC+, .183 ISO, 25 home runs, and a .291 BABIP. Still, those numbers remain lower marks than the Tigers hoped for, and pale in comparison to his awesome 2012 and 2011 stats. While some of the differences in Prince’s performance this season could be due to some randomness and bad luck, and any issues he might be having could be only a one-year aberration, his difficulty in hitting right-handed pitching, increase in K%, and serious drop in HR/FB% could become more permanent issues moving forward.
At 29 years old, Prince has a number of productive years, especially from a hitting standpoint ahead of him; he’s a first baseman in his prime. Nonetheless, the older a player gets, the more we begin to see holes emerge in their game, and Fielder’s issues this season could become worse and worse as he ages. At the moment, Miguel Cabrera has taken the load off of Prince’s back, carrying him and the rest of the Tigers’ offense, but for Detroit to succeed, not only in 2013 but for the next few seasons, Fielder must hit better than he has thus far in 2013.