Saturday, January 28, 2012

Prince Fielder Fantasy Dud?

Its always interesting to see what insiders or experts come up with when providing statistical analysis. One of the lines of thought on Detroit newcomer Prince Fielder has been that his 'just enough' home runs in Milwaukee would be NOT enough if he had connected with the same hit in Detroit.  The AL Central parks, in general, suppress left handed power hitting.  This evidence is meant to support an argument which indicates a down year in 2012 for Prince Fielder.  Although, I agree somewhat, I don't think this is a logical reason to expect Fielder to have less home runs for the Tigers.  The one factor that is completely ignored in this type of analysis is his age.  He's now 28 and entering the prime of his career, which for many athletes means an increase in upper body power.  We can't expect a rise in power BECAUSE he's reaching his prime as the 'prime' age is a general age, often unique to each player.  However, I don't believe the change in home parks ALONE will hurt his home run output for 2012.

Where I do see a problem for Fielder will be the pressure of the gigantic contract which now will draw him extra media attention.  Since he's considered an elite player, we will expect him to rise to the expectations but many a player has struggled (I'm looking at you Carl Crawford) in the first season after signing a huge contract.  Also, the change of venue from the National League to the AL.  For hitters, this is generally considered a positive.  Still, Fielder will need some time to adjust to AL pitchers and to his new surroundings, which include an entirely new league and division.

At the end of the day, Fielder shouldn't be considered risky as we're really debating an elite range of fantasy production.  His floor for power is likely 30 home runs.  Prince's ceiling is another matter entirely and that's what most of the experts are debating.  With Miguel Cabrera also in the lineup pitchers will be forced to pitch at least one of them, which if you believe in line up protection (prove it to me statistically because I don't), should provide ample RBI and run scoring opportunities for both players.  I would think a repeat of his 2011 statistics would not be outlandish for 2012.  Just temper your expectations for an improvement this season.

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