Can Prince Fielder win AL MVP?

joshmcswain
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After the 2013 season, sensing a change was needed, the Rangers traded longtime second baseman Ian Kindler, a fan favorite, to the Detroit Tigers for first baseman Prince Fielder. Fielder had signed an albatross contract with the Tigers just two seasons prior after spending the first seven years of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jun 7, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Rangers batter Prince Fielder (84) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last year it didn’t go so well as a neck injury limited Fielder to just 42 games in 2014 and he hit just three homeruns and eight doubles in 150 at bats before being shut down. But this season he has shown why the Rangers made the deal.

He is second in the AL with a .320 average, highest mark of his career. He currently sits at 148 hits, which puts him on pace to break his previous high of 182, set in 2012 with Detroit.

With the resurgence of the Rangers this season, a team that won just 67 games a year ago after winning 90+ each of the previous four years, can Fielder be considered an MVP candidate? Here are some of the other candidates in the AL this season:

Josh Donaldson: The former Oakland sluggers was traded to Toronto this season and has been lights out for the upstart Jays. He’s currently tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for second in the majors with 34 homeruns and leads the majors with 100 RBIs. He has climbed from nine homeruns in 2012 to 24 in 2013 to 29 last year and now has already set a career high with 34, and should easily get to 40 this season. He’s more than just a power guy—he’s hitting .302, first time over .300 in his career. Also is solid in the field.

Nelson Cruz: He’s a longshot to win the award because the Mariners have been a colossal disappointment this season, but Cruz has been mashing the ball. He’s tied with Fielder for second in batting average at .320 and leads the majors in homeruns with 37. That said, he isn’t in the top five in RBIs because the guys in front of him never get on base. There’s no doubt he’s going to take home a Silver Slugger award, and if there were a player of the year award he should get it. But valuable does mean that the performance of the team is factored in.

Mike Trout: Of course he has to be here. The most talented player in baseball has once again shown his immense skill with another great year. He has 33 homeruns, and will easily pass his career high of 36 from last season as long as he stays healthy. He’s hitting a shade under .300 at .297, and his RBI total is down from last year’s 111, currently at 73. He also only has 23 doubles and three triples so far this season after having 39 and nine, respectively, last season. I think big part of his candidacy will hinge on whether the Angels make it into the playoffs or not, and at this point that is getting more and more unlikely.

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Homeruns are the ultimate glamour stat, and Fielder only has 17 of them this season. For a guy who hit 50 homeruns earlier in his career with the Brewers, I think that could ultimately be his undoing. Fielder has had an incredible year and certainly deserves the votes that will come his way after the year is over, but at this point I think Donaldson is the favorite to win the award. However, if the Rangers can surge over the last few weeks of the season and take the division title from the Astros and the Yankees can take the AL east, that might help tilt the scales in Fielder’s favor and give the Rangers their first AL MVP since Josh Hamilton won it in 2010.

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