August 10, 2016, is a day to forever remember in the Texas Rangers organization. That day, some heartbreaking news was delivered by slugger Prince Fielder. Fielder announced he could no longer play professional baseball.
On this day, one year ago, Fielder was diagnosed with a herniation in the C4-C5 area of his neck, close to where he had his previous neck surgery in 2014. Undergoing his second neck surgery in a three-year span just nine days later, the status of his career was in serious jeopardy. What the Texas Rangers organization and fans feared came true.
This season, the Rangers’ offense is terrible. Their .237 batting average puts them 28th in the league and their .423 slugging percentage puts them 16th. Furthermore, their 745 hits are 28th, 860 strikeouts put them for fifth most in the league. On a positive note, they’re third in the league in home runs with 141, fourth in stolen bases with 77 and ninth in runs scored with 457. Strikeouts and hitting are the biggest struggles for the team this year. What could be the reason? Lack of focus? Not enough motivation? No motivation at all? Or is it that they miss Fielder so much?
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If missing Fielder is a legitimate reason, then it’s understandable. Along with Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre, Fielder presence on the team provided additional leadership to the young talents. While the loss of Fielder is still hurting Texas, the only thing to do is just move on. Worrying about the past affects the future. No doubt Fielder himself would have told his former teammates to move on and concentrate on the future.
After Fielder announced his retirement, Texas’ record from July 20th to the end of the regular season was 40-27, winning their second consecutive American League West title, only to suffer a sweeping loss to Toronto in the ALDS despite having home-field advantage and the best American League record. The bottom line is that the offense performed well after Fielder’s departure from the sport. As a matter of fact, they performed a lot better because Fielder wasn’t a good player when he retired. But is it that now they batting lineup has decided that they really miss Fielder and him not being in the clubhouse, the field and dugout anymore is affecting their performance? Why worry about it now? A year later? If this is the case, they have to get over it.
The Rangers batting lineup certainly has the talent. What they don’t have is the focus. The likes of Odor, Carlos Gomez, Joey Gallo have really struggled. Just about everyone on the batting lineup has.
It’s time to let all the emotions go. For the sake of this season, the offense must get it together. Yes, the chance of winning the A.L. West is dead in the water, but there may still be a chance to get a wild card spot. If that’s not happening, then the team ought to just play for pride. Simply just giving up is not an option.