This is the first of a five-part series looking back at the playing career of Prince Fielder as a Milwaukee Brewer.
The end of Prince Fielder’s playing career last week is a sad end to the career of one of the greatest players in Brewers history. Though he was only with the Brewers for seven seasons, he left an impact that will be recognized by the franchise for generations. Let’s start with all of the marks he left in the stat books for the Brewers.
Single-Season Brewers Marks
Top 5 Appearances Only
- .415 OBP in 2011 (4th)
- .618 SLG in 2007 (2nd)
- .602 SLG in 2009 (3rd)
- 1.014 OPS in 2009 (1st)
- 1.013 OPS in 2007 (2nd)
- 162 Games Played in 2009 & 2011
- 354 Total Bases in 2007 (4th)
- 50 Home Runs in 2007 (1st)
- 46 Home Runs in 2009 (2nd)
- 141 RBI in 2009 (1st)
- 114 Walks in 2010 (1st)
- 110 Walks in 2009 (2nd)
- 107 Walks in 2011 (3rd)
- 32 Intentional Walks in 2011 (1st)
- 21 Intentional Walks in 2007 & 2009 (2nd)
- 19 Intentional Walks in 2008 (4th)
- 21 Hit by Pitch in 2010 (3rd)
- 87 Extra-Base Hits in 2007 (T-1st)
- 84 Extra-Base Hists in 2009 (3rd)
Career Brewers Marks
Top 10 Appearances Only
- .390 OBP (1st)
- .540 SLG (2nd)
- .929 OPS (1st)
- 571 Runs Scored (9th)
- 1904 Total Bases (8th)
- 230 Home Runs (3rd)
- 656 RBI (7th)
- 566 Walks (3rd)
- 779 Strikeouts (8th)
- 439 Extra-Base Hits (6th)
- 78 HBP (3rd)
- 115 Intentional Walks (1st)
I had to limit what I added there because if I went beyond that, the list would probably cause many of your mobile browsers to crash. Needless to say, that’s a lot of marks. Some of those are so high that they will likely never be surpassed. Needless to say, his name won’t be disappearing from the Brewers record books for a long time.
Of course, if I limited his impact to just the record book, it wouldn’t do his career with the Brewers justice. His biggest impact was the revival of the franchise, which had been struggling for so many years. When he arrived in Milwaukee in 2005, it was the beginning of a turnaround that brought the franchise out of a streak of losing seasons back to relevance. The playoff appearances in 2008 and 2011 brought success to the Brewers after so many missed years, and those playoff runs brought in new fans that kept the excitement of the franchise going. The success he brought helped make Milwaukee a desirable free agent destination and brought in other talent that wouldn’t have come to the team before. Without Fielder, this franchise is likely still struggling for a playoff appearance and potentially still in their drought. No one would want to play here, fan support would continue to dwindle, and the team could be struggling to get by.
One of the big questions that will come up with Prince Fielder is what honors he will get with the Brewers in the future. The first of them, and the easiest to join, is the Brewers Wall of Honor. He will be an automatic inductee for the franchise as he met the minimum requirements for inclusion there with over 2000 PA with the franchise. However, since he is not officially retiring yet, it may be 2021 before the official ceremony is held there.
Another honor he could get is a spot on the Brewers Walk of Fame. This is voted on by Brewers media every year. To make it, he would need 75% of the vote on the ballot. This will be a more difficult task, though. Assuming Fielder doesn’t retire until after the 2020 season, the first ballot he would be eligible for is in 2024, where the vote usually takes place in January. That will be more than twelve years after his time with the Brewers ended. While many will still remember Fielder’s accomplishments, it will be a tougher case since his Brewers career will be much older then. He definitely has a good case, it’s just a question of if it will withstand the test of time.
The final honor he could get is his number retired by the Brewers. This is likely not going to happen, though. Of the six numbers “retired”, five of them (Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, Hank Aaron, Bob Uecker) are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The sixth (Bug Selig) will likely be there as well. Fielder’s shot at being in the Hall of Fame is very low to nonexistent, so his chance of his number being retired is the same.
The impact of Prince Fielder in Milwaukee is easy to see with everything he has done for the franchise. His numbers will remain in the Brewers record books for decades, and his impact to this franchise will be remembered for many years. It’s still too early to say how future generations will view him, but for now, he will be a key part of Brewers history.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs