A Move to Texas hasn’t cured Prince Fielder’s Struggles

prince-field-rangers-strugglesPrince 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.

prince-field-rangers-struggles-2So 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.

MLB Power Rankings for September 25th, 2013

david-ortizThe 2013 MLB regular season is almost at a close, which means that playoff positions are very close to being decided. Some teams like Boston, Oakland, Atlanta and St. Louis have nothing to worry about because they’ve already locked up postseason berths. Other teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas are still fighting for their playoff lives. That said, let’s discuss the clubs that have already clinched postseason berths along with those who are still clawing for a spot.

1. Boston Red Sox (95-63), clinched AL East – After finishing an AL East-worst 69-93, the Red Sox have completed an impressive worst-to-first resurrection. Now they seek to beat out the A’s for the best overall record in the American League.

2. Oakland Athletics (94-65), clinched AL West – Oakland entered oakland-athletics-titleSeptember in a close battle with Texas over the AL West. Well that battle has turned into a bloodbath with the A’s outdistancing their division rival by 7 games. Bartolo Colon is peaking at just the right time with a 3-1 record and 0.90 ERA in his last five starts.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65), clinched playoff berth – The Cardinals are in the midst of trying to close out the Central division, with a 3-game lead over Pittsburgh. This club can only get better if they get Allen Craig back by October.

4. Detroit Tigers (91-65), clinched playoff berth – The Tigers should come into the playoffs on a roll since they square off against bottom-feeders Minnesota and Miami to end the year. In a season filled with highlights for Detroit, Max Scherzer may top them all with his 20 wins.

5. Atlanta Braves (93-64), clinched AL East – Much like Detroit, Atlanta Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubsgets two easy series to close out the regular season with Philadelphia and Milwaukee on the schedule. Both the offense and bullpen are looking strong. Now it’s up to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and the rest of the starters to step up in October.

6. Cincinnati Reds (90-69), clinched playoff berth – Cincinnati is now likely fighting with Pittsburgh for home field in the Wild Card game. Assuming the Reds can beat the Pirates, they have a deep enough team to make some noise in the playoffs.

7. Los Angeles Dogers (91-66), clinched AL West – Think Boston’s one-year turnaround is amazing? How about the Dodgers, who became just the fourth team in history to go from last place after July 1st, to first in their division. Matt Kemp has only played 69 games this year, but if he can go in the playoffs, it’ll really boost the Dodgers’ World Series hopes.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68), clinched playoff berth – Pittsburgh finishes out the year in Cincinnati, which will decide who gets home field in the Wild Card game. Unfortunately, the Pirates blew their chance at a division title after losing three of four to the Padres last week.

9. Cleveland Indians (87-70), second in AL Central – Cleveland has been red hot in September and jumped into the second Wild Card spot as a result. Now they need to hang on with Texas only one game behind them.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (88-69), second in AL East – With a division title out of reach, Tampa Bay will fight to hold onto their Wild Card position. They’re currently one game ahead of Cleveland and two games ahead of Texas.

11. Kansas City Royals (83-74), third in AL Central – The Royals have very slim postseason hopes as they currently sit four games behind Cleveland for the last Wild Card spot. But playoffs or no playoffs, the Royals can be proud of how their rotation improved over the last couple of months.

12. Texas Rangers (86-71), second in AL West – Texas has played terrible down the stretch, posting one of the worst records in September. But if the Rangers can pick themselves up and start playing like they did in the season’s first half, they could still make the postseason.