Prince Fielder is welcoming the opportunity for a fresh start now that he has been traded to the Texas Rangers. The remarkably durable slugger appeared in 162 games in each of his two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, but he was not happy with a 2013 season in which he hit .279 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI.
“Everybody was on me a little bit about my performance, rightfully so,” Fielder said at his news conference on Monday, via ESPNDallas.com. “I sucked. I didn’t have to be reminded of it. Hopefully, we can make some memories here.”
Fielder’s on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.457) were down from previous seasons, although his batting average, home run total and RBI total were right around his career mark. As Rangers GM Jon Daniels said, the team will gladly take those numbers if that’s what sucking is.
“That’s a pretty good year for sucking,” Daniels said. “A guy of his magnitude, a perennial MVP candidate and one of the top power hitters in the game, isn’t available if he’s coming off a career year. Based on the work we’ve done and our reports on him, we’re confident there’s a lot more in the tank.”
Just 29 years old, Fielder should have plenty of good seasons left. Where he has really frustrated fans is in the postseason. Fielder hit .225 in the playoffs this year and was virtually useless in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. He did not have a single home run or an RBI in 11 playoff games in 2013. He hit just one home run and drove in three runs during his two postseasons with Detroit.
Simply put, there is no way Fielder is going to earn the back end of his nine-year, $214 million contract in the regular season. If he can’t find a way to hit in October, it won’t matter if he hits 50 home runs each season he is with the Rangers. Maybe the warm weather year-round will help him stay hot late in the season.