Texas Rangers May Need Their Prince to Save the Season
By David Hill
It was easy to get excited when the Texas Rangers acquired Prince Fielder from the Tigers for Ian Kinsler. Fielder had played every game in the previous five seasons, and was a proven power hitter who would help fill a major void in the lineup. His presence at first was certainly considered to be an upgrade, as he had averaged a .290/.400/.524 batting line with 34 home runs from 2009 through 2013.
Instead of being that feared slugger in the middle of the Rangers lineup, Fielder struggled from the beginning. He posted a .247/.360/.360 batting line through May 16, hitting only three home runs before his season abruptly ended as he needed surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. Now, instead of being the feared slugger the Rangers had anticipated, Fielder is a rather large question mark heading into the 2015 season.
Despite his ability to play every day, one would have been excused if they felt that the rather rotund Fielder would be an injury risk. Generously listed at only 275 pounds, our favorite first base jollux does not exactly have a body type that would seemingly age well. After all, his father Cecil Fielder had his final healthy season at age 32, and was out of baseball two years later. Can Prince Fielder avoid that same sort of fate?
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That is the $114 Million question for the Rangers. Will the younger Fielder avoid the same fate that befell his father and wash out just after his prime? While it is only Spring Training, the results from the Cactus League are promising. In his 43 Spring Training plate appearances, Fielder posted a .333/.349/.429 batting line with a home runs, striking out only twice. Even though he had only two extra base hits, those results would appear rather promising.
The projections for the 2015 season would appear to also paint a promising picture for Prince Fielder. Even the most pessimistic projection, courtesy of ZiPS, has Fielder producing a .262/.360/.437 batting line with 21 home runs. While that is not close to the same production that he had prior to last season, those numbers are not terrible either. They just may be a bit disappointing.
Given the injury to Yu Darvish and the questions surrounding the rotation, the Rangers will likely go as far as their offense can take them. Having a healthy Prince Fielder in the middle of the lineup, producing at close to his accustomed levels, would go a long way towards a successful 2015.
Next: Will the Texas Rangers Experience the Year of Rougned Odor in 2015?