by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
All assumptions were that, arriving in Texas, Prince Fielder was a lock to have a monster 2014. However, as the calendar has turned to May that has simply not been the truth. Thus far he has been nothing but a major disappointment and fantasy owners have been left wondering if there is any hope of a turnaround?
The surface numbers do appear promising. He’s not striking out much (12.4%) and is still taking his walks (13.2%). Throw in a .228 BABIP and exactly what’s not to like?
His batted ball profile certainly isn’t promising, taking away from the positives:
- Line Drive Rate – 18.1%
- Groundball Rate – 53.2% (41.0% for his career)
- Fly Ball Rate – 28.7% (38.9% for his career)
Throw in a career worst 7.4% HR/FB and the questions are definitely relevant. His September 2013 fly ball rate was a meager 22.0%, so this is not just a one month issue. We are now over two calendar months of few fly balls, so that has to open some eyes.
However, is anyone about to think that, given his history, he truly has become nothing more than a groundball machine? This is a player who appeared primed to routinely hit 35 HR, so it’s hard to imagine him simply losing it. While we may want to point to his body type, that’s not really enough if an explanation. It’s something to watch, but you wouldn’t think it would completely zap him of his power (that’s the one thing we’d expect him to maintain).
The bottom line is that, while it’s been a disappointing start to his Texas career, the potential for him to explode is still there. Maybe he’s not a 40+ HR threat in 2014, though it’s also still not impossible either.
For his career April has actually been his second worst month when it comes to HR, with just 38. It also is his worst month for HR/FB, at 15.6%.
I wouldn’t go out of my way trying to acquire him, because there’s obviously concern in the metrics. However, if the price is right, I also wouldn’t hesitate (and I wouldn’t sell low). There’s just too much potential and history to think he isn’t going to turn it around.
Source – Fangraphs