Better in Texas?
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Prince Fielder bought his ticket out of Detroit by going just 18-for-92 (.196) with three RBI in the last two postseasons and making several critical errors this past October.
Fantasy owners were fed up with Fielder long before then.
The first baseman had his worst major league season for the Detroit Tigers in 2013, batting .279 and setting career lows with 25 home runs and an .819 OPS. His 106 RBI were a product of hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and his .442 on- base percentage the whole season.
The Tigers traded Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler in November, sending him to a ballpark that is very favorable for left-handed power hitters.
But Fielder's issues last season were more than just an extension of playing at Comerica Park.
His power dip was universal, as put up a 13.6 percent home-run-per-flyball rate (HR/FB) on the road, compared to a 13.4 percent HR/FB at home.
Fielder's HR/FB in 2012, his first year in Detroit, was 17.9 percent (20 percent at home, 15.4 percent on the road), and he hit 30 home runs, down from a 21.8 percent HR/FB and 38 homers in 2011 with the Milwaukee Brewers but still impressive.
Fielder's plate discipline also declined, and he put up his worst walk percentage (BB%) since 2006 with a base on balls in 10.5 percent of his at- bats. His 16.4 percent strikeout rate (K%) was his worst since 2010.
The slugger's swing and contact rates last season were telling.
He expanded the zone more often than in 2012, swinging at 30.6 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the strike zone, up from 28.8 percent the year before.
He also had an increase in z-swing percentage (the number of pitches a batter swings at inside the zone), but his contact rate on pitches in the strike zone was one of the worst of his career at .856. He made contact on 89.3 percent of pitches he swung at in the strike zone in 2012.
So what we had in 2013 was a player swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone and making contact with fewer pitches inside the zone.
Moving to the Lone Star State won't help to stop Fielder's recession in plate discipline nor will it speed up his bat to catch up to the pitches in the zone he missed in 2013.
It's not all doom and gloom for Fielder owners. What you'll be getting in him is a player who has played at least 157 games in eight straight seasons and missed one game combined the last five years.
Fielder will be trading one good lineup for another, and hitting behind on- base machine Shin-Soo Choo and the speedy Elvis Andrus should help him drive in 100 runs for the seventh time in eight seasons. He has scored at least 82 runs in eight consecutive years and should make it nine in 2014 with Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios providing protection.
However, while Rangers Ballpark in Arlington may add five home runs to Fielder's 2013 total, it won't completely revitalize the first baseman back to the elite power hitter he was from 2007-11 with the Brewers.
The 275-pound Fielder will fit in just fine in the state where everything is bigger, but he won't necessarily be better in 2014.
01/31 16:53:45 ET