The Case of Prince Fielder


Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman

Prince Fielder

(28) reacts at the end of the first inning in game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It is not a secret that Prince Fielder’s postseason for the Detroit Tigers was an immense disaster and he has been the target of many critics. These critics have harped on Fielder for his performance on the field and the way he handles his performance off of it.

On the field this postseason, Prince continued his postseason struggles. In 11 games and 40 at-bats, Fielder had a .225/.311/.250 split with no home runs or runs driven in. In the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Fielder had a .182/.280/.227 split with only 1 extra base hit, drew only 2 walks, and struckout 5 times. For a player who was brought to the Tigers on a 9-year $214 million deal to be the cleanup hitter behind the best hitter on the planet and the hottest hitter in the American League, this is absolutely unacceptable. It would be unacceptable for a player making $5 million per year.

Fielder’s ineptitude on the basepaths have been well documented. This is all you really need to see to understand this and it pains me to watch this video, but I can’t look away.

Defensively, Fielder was just as poor. This was very evident in the 9th inning of Game 2 at Fenway. On a throw from Iglesias that was wide of the bag, Fielder came off of the bag, but completely whiffed on the ball as it went into the stands and advanced the runner to 2nd base. In the next at bat, Fielder could not catch a simple popup by the first base stands. Later in the at bat, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in the game winning run on a single. This is a microcosm of Fielder’s fielding ineptitude. He has no range at first base, making it easy for many groundballs to make it through the right side of the infield.

There are some times that a player goes through a slump on the field where he cannot hit, may make a boneheaded decision, or is hobbled by an injury and just plays through it. A lot can be understood about a player by the way he handles this adversity. The off the field issues for Prince have been well documented this season with his divorce, of which many of us can sympathize, but he way that Prince has handled himself with his on the field issues are harder to accept.

In a very well written article by Dave Hogg for Fox Sports Detroit, Hogg says that that baseball for Fielder is just a job. There are some quotes in this article from Fielder on how he is dealing with his struggles and the Tigers’ loss to Boston in the ALCS. Here are the quotes that bother me most.

“It’s not really tough for me. It’s over. I’ve got kids I’ve got to take care of. I’ve got things I’ve got to take care of. For me, it’s over bro.” This is the quote that will get most fans fired up. This sounds like Prince is apathetic. I would rather have a player say that this loss hurt and it will push them harder in the offseason to prepare for the year ahead than this. Players cannot get to high or too low, but this is something that takes that too the extreme. Yes, the series is over, but this series should drive you to want it more.

“I don’t have a magic wand. If he makes a mistake, I hit it. If he doesn’t, I don’t. That’s baseball.” No, Prince. You don’t have a magic wand, you have a baseball bat. You are being paid $23 million per year to use that bat to hit both mistakes that the pitchers make and the good pitches that they make. You are paid the 4th most of any player in all of baseball in 2013 because you are supposed to be able to hit both their pitches and your pitches. That’s baseball. You did not even wait for that mistake, the number of pop ups and ground balls to second base were appalling in the postseason. You are paid to be one of the best. Be one of the best.

“[Fans] don’t play. I mean, if you have responsibilities it should be, you know, you shouldn’t take your work home, you know? I’ve got to still be a father and take care of my kids, so, you know, I’ve got to move on.” Yes, people do take their work home with them. I am not a father, but I watched my parents do it. My mom was a school teacher and my dad was a doctor. My mom brings home work every night grading papers, answering emails, and planning for the next school day. My dad brought home charts of patients to make sure everything was documented correctly and the patient was treated the right way. They were still parents and great ones. They are also very good at their jobs. If they were not, they would have lost them and not be paid. Fans do not go out there and get paid to play a game. They spend their hard earned dollar to watch these games. They demand the best product for the money that they spend. In fact, they deserve it.

The Tigers have Fielder under contract for the next 7 years for $168 million dollars. His defense at first base, which is already below average, will only decline from here. Fielder has never learned how the run the bases or to slide. Tigers fans will hate this contract as the years roll on more and more. They better strap in for the long haul because Fielder and the Tigers will be a couple for the next 7 years barring a highly unlikely trade for a player who will turn into a DH in the next few years.