Not every prince is meant to be a king, and Prince Fielder just got a reality check. He lived the dream of many players; drafted, excelled on the field, and got the 9 year $214 million dollar contract that dreams are made of. In 2012 when Fielder got signed by the Detroit Tigers he was on top of the world, but all good things must come to an end.
Fielder played his first full season in the majors in 2006 with the Milwaukee Brewers. The season was good and he finished 7th in the Rookie of the Year voting that year. The following year would start Fielder’s coming out party as one of the most feared sluggers in baseball at the time. In just one season his slugging percentage went from .483 in 2006 to .618 in 2007 and his almost double his amount of home runs from 28 to 119. 2007 was his best season, Fielder’s stats were similar through 2011 and would eventually lead to the 9 year deal with the Tigers.
The Tigers were looking for a slugger to replace the power of an injured Victor Martinez for the 2012 season and they thought Fielder would fill the void. Although his batting average was staying up, he wasn’t hitting the homers the Tigers had hoped, so Fielder was traded the Texas Rangers in 2013 for 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler.
Up to this point, Fielder had played no less than 157 game each season from 2006 to 2013, but in his first season with the Rangers tragedy struck. May 23, 2014 ESPN reported that the Rangers new Prince had a season ending injury to his neck that would require surgery and a 3 to 4 month recovery. Thankfully for the Rangers in 2015 Fielder was back to his old self; playing 158 games with a .305/.463/.814 and 98 RBIs.
The Rangers were hopeful going into the 2016. Despite the fact that in the trade with the Tigers, they agreed to pay a portion of Fielder’s contract, they were still looking forward to getting a return on their 7 year $168 million dollar player.
Fielder had a slow start to the 2016 season and there was speculation that since he was following a similar pattern to 2014, that his neck may be the issue. When asked by Gerry Fraley of Sports Day from DallasNews.com asked if the 2014 neck injury could be the issue, to notion was dismissed. Rangers manager Jeff Banister also denied any link to injury being Fielder’s problem, stating that pitchers were not giving him a chance to “pull for power” because they were not throwing him inside fastballs.
Whether or not Fielder’s neck was the real issue for most of the season will remain a mystery but it reared it’s ugly head shortly after a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim July 18. This would be the last time he would take the field. On Wednesday July 20 Sports Illustrated reported that Fielder had to have another season ending neck surgery due to another herniated disc in his neck. August 10th the Prince made the difficult decision to step away from the game he loved forever due to his injury.
Upon retirement Prince Fielder a career .283 hitter, with 319 home runs and 1028 RBIs. He will end his career with similar but slightly better stats than his father Cecil Fielder who spent 13 years in the league. The one stat they do share is number of home runs, 319. This, of course, is just a coincidence, but is just another testament to the unpredictability of the game. Even though it has been documented that the father and son have had a rocky relationship, I’m sure that is a stat they will gladly share. Fielder may not ever make it to the Hall of Fame (something else he would have in common with his father), but he will no doubt be missed in the clubhouse and the stands.
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