Prince’s Slow Start
Prince Fielder has only played 12 games as a Texas Ranger as of Monday morning, and it hasn’t been the best. Every day the anger from fans on social media, and even at the ballpark grows. You can hear the cries of “What’s wrong, Prince?” and the occasional “I miss Ian Kinsler” after yet another out from Fielder. Twelve games, however, is an extremely small sample size. Fielder’s first twelve games of each season vary so heavily that nothing is proven by his rough patch in 2014.
Right now Prince is hitting with a line of .149/.245/.191. Absolutely none of those numbers look like Prince Fielder numbers. He has yet to hit a homerun and has only hit two doubles. Even his OBP is far from his norm with only six walks this season – three intentionally. Since 2013 was a down year for Fielder, a slow start has worried people more than it should. Losing one of the core Texas Rangers from the 2010-2011 team probably doesn’t help either.
Through Fielder’s first twelve games in 2013, he was almost literally tearing the cover off the ball. His line was .429/.527/.833, with four homeruns and five doubles. The elevated OBP comes from ten walks already under his belt. He seemed to be patient when he had to be and aggressive when he had the opportunity. It started out as a great year. Fielder ended that season with just a 2.2 fWAR, which doesn’t make him a total spare, but ends up being one of his worst seasons. If one of a player’s worst seasons ends with a .347 OBP and a .457 slugging percentage, his bad days are still better than most player’s good days.
Fielder has started this slow before, in 2009.
His best season of his career came in 2009, when he recorded a 5.9 fWAR and finished the season with a 1.014 OPS and 46 homeruns. The first twelve games of that season were comparable to his 2014. He hit just .175/.327/.325 during the start of 2009, with just seven hits and three doubles. The big difference is the OBP. He drew ten walks in the first twelve games with the Brewers in 2009. In the next 150 games, he hit .309/.418/.623 to finish the season out with a bang.
What this all boils down to is that twelve games is not enough to justify any opinion about a player. Prince could go on a tear today and hit thirty bombs by the end of the season. He could also ride this slump into the sunset and prove the Ian Kinsler loyalists right. We’ve seen Prince start out rough and end up great, and we’ve also seen the opposite. Then we’ve seen seasons like 2011 where he started strong and ended strong, but went through a random twelve game slump in June where he hit .174/.309/.261. It can happen at any time. There’s no history that shows Prince Fielder will be a .149 hitter forever. Just wait.