Prince Fielder was drafted in 2002 by the Milwaukee Brewers, taken seventh overall out of Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Florida. He is, of course, the son of former Major Leaguer Cecil Fielder.
On August 10th, 2016, Prince announced that due to a second spinal fusion, he would no longer be able to play baseball. It isn’t an official retirement due to financial considerations, but a look back at his career seems appropriate.
Most baseball fans know by now that Prince and Cecil Fielder ended their respective careers with 319 home runs each. Most of us have the same number of major league home runs as our fathers/children, only ‘zero’ isn't quite as impressive or noteworthy.
Fielder signed quickly in June of 2002, and moved quickly through the Brewers’ system, arriving at the big league team in 2005. He appeared in 39 games that year, hitting .288 in 59 at bats with 2 homers and 10 RBI.
Prince became the regular first baseman for the Brewers in 2006, replacing the popular Lyle Overbay. Overbay was dealt to Toronto after the 2005 season in a deal that saw Dave Bush, Gabe Gross, and Zach Jackson come back to Milwaukee. There are some interesting notes about those three, but for another day...
Fielder slashed .271/.347/.483 with an OPS of .831 in his first full season, and finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year voting (won by Hanley Ramirez). He had 35 doubles and 28 homers, driving in 81. Oddly, he successfully stole 7 bases in 9 attempts.
2007 saw Fielder burst into stardom as he set the Brewer single season home run record with 50, slashed .288/.395/.618. His 1.013 OPS would end up a very close second to the 2009 campaign (1.014) for the best over-all hitting season of his career. Those two are the best OPS seasons in Brewers history. The Brewers won 83 games, their best season since 1992, and finished just two games behind the division champion Chicago Cubs.
Fielder would play four more seasons with the Brewers, hitting at least 32 homers every season, with 46 in 2009. His 141 RBI led the NL that year, and is the best RBI season in Brewers’ history by 15. The Brewers made the play-offs in 2008, ending a 25 year drought, and again in 2011 when they won a franchise record 96 games. They lost the divisional series in 2008 to the Phillies and the League Championship series to the Cardinals in 2011. Prince played every game in 2011, with 38 homeruns and 120 RBI.
Fielder would leave following the 2011 season via Free Agency, signing with the Detroit Tigers. He was traded (along with $30 million) following the 2014 season to Texas for Ian Kinsler. Prince had his highest single season batting average for the Tigers in 2012, and slashed .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers - his last 30 homerun season.
Prince’s 2014 season in Texas was cut short by injury, but his 2015 season for the Rangers was good, with a .305/.378/.463 slash. He drove in 94. This year saw him struggle, and his second surgery spelled the end.
While with the Brewers, Fielder was an All Star in 2007, 2009, and 2011. He drew MVP votes in ‘07 (3rd), ‘08 (20th), ‘09 (4th), and ‘11 (3rd).
After leaving the Brewers, Prince was an All Star for the Tigers in ‘12 and the Rangers in ‘15, and finished 9th in MVP voting for Detroit in ‘12 and 13th for Texas in ‘15.
Fielder also won Silver Slugger awards (best hitter at his position) in 2007 and 2011 while with the Brewers, and in 2012 with Detroit.
A career cut short, but while he played he was a force to be reckoned with and was regularly pitched around. His defense was below average, but his bat was so good that he had to play. The Brewers and their fans owe Prince a huge "Thank You!" for his role in turning the franchise around, and that is sure to come in the near future.