Texas Rangers Need to Make Prince Fielder Primary DH


Nominally, Prince Fielder is the Texas Rangers starting first baseman. After all, he has played more games at first than anyone else, and the majority of his appearances in the lineup have come with Fielder needing his fielding mitt. However, this is pretty much a matter of semantics, as Fielder has played seven games at first and appeared as the Rangers designated hitter six times.

Given Fielder’s heft, as well as his injury issues from last year, it may be fair to wonder as to whether or not the Rangers would be better served by keeping him away from defense. After all, Fielder does not exactly look like he would be that defensively adept in the field anyway, and with Mitch Moreland on the roster, it would seem like a perfect fit to transition Fielder into the designated hitter role full time.

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Statistically, such a move would make sense for the Rangers. While the small sample size caveat for this season applies, it is easy to see that Moreland is the better defensive first baseman over his career. Since 2010, when Moreland first entered the majors, Fielder has cost his teams 21 runs defensively. Moreland, meanwhile, is considered to have saved two runs at first.

That difference can already be seen this season. In the seven games Fielder has played at first base, he has already cost the Texas Rangers four runs. Moreland, meanwhile, has been exactly even, neither costing nor saving a run defensively. For a team with the rotation issues that the Rangers are going through, it would make sense to put the best defensive option on the field, especially if he is not hurting the offense.

With Mitch Moreland having been kept out of the lineup with general soreness, Prince Fielder has remained in the field. Yet, the moment that Moreland is able to return to the lineup, Fielder should be hanging up his first baseman’s mitt until interleague play. Even though Jeff Banister is adamant about letting Fielder play in the field, he needs to rethink this insistence.

Sometimes, a manager needs to do what is best for the team, regardless of his personal thoughts. Yes, at age 31, it may seem early to leave Fielder strictly as the Rangers designated hitter. However, Fielder does have a lot of mileage, and poundage, on that corpulent frame of his. With the $114 Million that the Rangers will be paying Fielder from the start of this year until his contract runs out, keeping him healthy and productive is more important than keeping him in the field.

Hopefully, this stance is mere posturing by Banister, and he realizes that he should play his best defensive lineup as much as possible. The first step to do so would be to make Mitch Moreland the primary first baseman and have Prince Fielder grab a bat and a seat until his spot in the lineup comes up.

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