Prince Fielder hasn’t played in Detroit in two seasons.
The slugger was shown the door after a terrible, unproductive 2013 postseason and Fielder didn’t help the situation at all with upset fans.
Instead of being bummed out after losing to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, Fielder was flip and almost unfazed. In a postgame TV interview, he came off like he didn’t even care. Tigers’ fans were outraged and he became public enemy No. 1 on sports-talk radio overnight.
It was a bad look.
In hindsight, the Detroit Tigers overreacted when it came to Fielder. General manager Dave Dombrowski gave up a bat his team still needs.
It was easy to discount Fielder and wish him good riddance last season. He was injured and played just 42 games. Plus, the Tigers made the playoffs despite some offensive woes without him.
Enter 2015. Fielder, totally healthy, is Prince Fielder again.
Coming into Tuesday’s games, Fielder led the American League in hits with 74 and batting average at .359. Plus, he has hit 10 home runs as the Texas Rangers are alive again, 5.5 games out of first place in the AL West.
“What Prince Fielder is doing right now is special,” Red Sox DH David Ortiz said recently. “He’s always been a great hitter. He had a rough spell last year with the surgery.
“Now he’s back to being Prince Fielder. I love watching him.”
Tigers’ fans, no doubt, are cringing. That’s because their team is scuffling. They have lost four in a row and seven of their last nine games. They are in third place in the AL Central, 3.5 games behind.
The biggest reason for the Tigers’ woes? They can’t score runs. The Tigers have scored two runs or less in 25 of their 52 games this season.
Granted, DH Victor Martinez is on the disabled list, but Miguel Cabrera is still batting third.
Ask any honest Tigers fan what the team needs and they will tell you a power lefty bat: Prince Fielder.
Fans can pooh-pooh that notion all they want, but it’s true.
The Tigers would not be in this position if they didn’t trade away Fielder’s bat.
Because Prince, who was dealt in November 2013, had a terrible postseason – no homeruns or RBI – fans wanted him to disappear and thought he wouldn’t be missed. But in reality, on paper at the time of the trade, the Tigers weren’t better without Fielder- an All-Star and their lone lefty power bat. Hence, the team dumped both salary and talent.
That World Series title that the Tigers have been longing for didn’t seem any closer after the Fielder deal that landed second baseman Ian Kinsler.
And while Kinsler played well in his first season in Motown, he has struggled big time in 2015. Kinsler is batting .271 with one HR. In his last seven games and coming into Tuesday, Kinsler is 3-for-26.
Some fans got lost when thinking only of Prince’s bad postseason rather than the two productive regular seasons he had here.
Before that horrid 2013 postseason, Fielder made the All-Star team both years in Motown. For the Tigers, he had 55 homers and averaged 107 RBI.
The combination of Fielder and Cabrera made for the most dangerous duo in baseball.
Let’s not forget that Cabrera won back-to-back AL MVPs with Fielder batting behind him in the cleanup spot. And Cabrera hit 40 or more home runs in each season, the only two times in his career. Still, there’s no doubt he misses Prince’s protection.
Prince was supposed to be the missing piece, the bat to finally get Detroit its first World Series since 1984. When Fielder was signed to the whopping $214-million pact, fans celebrated in the city.
Nonetheless, even without Prince in the lineup, many MLB experts still picked the Tigers to go back to the World Series in 2014, but they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Baltimore Orioles.
This season, many aren’t sure if the Tigers’ lifeless offense will even make it to the postseason. Meanwhile, Fielder rakes in Texas.
Showing why he’s Prince.