Prince Fielder’s two-year stint in Detroit didn’t exactly end on a positive note. The 5’11”, 275-pound slugger hit a paltry .225 with 0 home runs and RBI’s in the playoffs last year. The ACLS was especially a nightmare as Fielder batted .182 while the Tigers were dispatched in six games. And one quote after the ACLS that’s seared in the minds of Detroit fans is this: “It’s not really tough. It’s over,” Fielder said. “For me, it’s over bro.”
Not exactly the words that one of America’s most die-hard baseball towns wants to hear when they miss out on the World Series by two games. But it was honesty from a guy who, up until October, had played solid for Detroit. He hit .279, had 25 homers and batted in 106 runs during the regular season. But then again, “solid” numbers like these weren’t exactly what the Tigers were paying Fielder $24 million a year for. So they shipped the struggling first baseman to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler and the promise to pay $30 million more of Fielder’s contract.
It was thought that a move out West, to a place where fans are a little more relaxed, might cure some of the slugger’s hitting struggles. This was especially the case since he’d been both physically and emotionally fried from giving his all in Detroit. “Those playoffs, I was really trying to be better and help us win,” he said. “I wasn’t able to. By then, I’ve given my all. My time. My free time. My brain. It was like, ‘I just can’t do it anymore.'”
So far, Fielder claims to be a lot more at ease in Texas. “Good – everything is good,” he said when asked about his time with the Rangers. But there’s one glaringly obvious thing that’s not so good: his .209 hitting through 30 games this season.
It appears as if Fielder’s postseason struggles have followed him to Arlington, where he’s been a shell of his former self, knocking in just two home runs and nine RBI’s so far. The lone bright spot is that he’s been intentionally walked nine times this season, which currently leads the MLB. But if he continues hitting like this, it won’t be long until teams stop pitching around him.
So what’s the reasoning behind the struggles? Unfortunately, Fielder doesn’t really have a clue. “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.”
He also refuses to worry about defenses constantly shifting to minimize his ability to hit to certain spots. “As far as trying to patty-cake it, manipulate the ball, that’s not me,” Fielder explained. “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.”
The team’s manager, Ron Washington, also doesn’t have any answers for the struggles. “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 a .200 hitter. He’s a power hitter who can hit. It’s gotta start soon.”
The way that things are currently going, it’s hard to know when “soon” is going to be. But the one benefit that Fielder has right now is the time of year. We’re just now entering May and there’s 132 regular season games left. So unlike his October doldrums with Detroit, he’s got plenty more time to atone for his miserable .209 batting average thus far. Moreover, there’s still enough time for the Rangers, who are currently 17-14 and just two games back of the AL West-leading Oakland A’s.