By: Noah Wright
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Prince Fielder was one of The Brewers most iconic sluggers. The first basemen has also played in line-ups that housed a triple-crown Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and an MVP Ryan Braun. Early in his career when he was with The Brewers, Fielder looked like a for sure Hall Of Fame Player, and even into his years with The Tigers. However, neck injuries derailed his career, and forced him into retirement at only 32 years old. So with that, let’s analyze Prince Fielder’s career, and see whether he deserves a call to the hall.
Why He Will Go Into The Hall:
To start with, Fielder had 7 consecutive 30+ home run seasons. This spanned from 2007 season when he blasted a league leading 50 homers, to 2012 when he hit 30 with The Tigers.
Fielder is also one of just 86 players with a career slugging % above .500, with a .506 slugging %. It ranks 72nd among all time players (tied with Bill Terry and Bob Johnson, who is a Hall Of Famer), and ties Terry for 26th all time for first baseman. It’s also just .003 points lower than that of Harmon Killebrew, and .007 points higher than Orlando Cepeda, both of whom are Hall Of Fame Players. Though Fielder was a big power hitter, he got on base quite a bit. His career .382 OBP ranks 108th all time, and 31st all time among first baseman. His OBP is also higher than that of Vlad Guerrero (.379), and Carl Yastrzemski (.379). Fielder also was a very durable player. Between 2009, and 2013, Fielder never missed a game, and played 547 total games in that time span. His feat ranks 25 overall in consecutive games played. To add on, Fielder has 6 all-star appearances, 3 silver sluggers, and 2 Home Run Derby championship trophies. He has also went to The World Series once with The Tigers in 2012, and has made postseason appearances in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, and in 2015. Fielder also finished in the top 5 of MVP voting in his sophomore season in 2007 when he led the league in homeruns, 2009 when he led the league in RBI’s, and 2011 when he finished with a league leading .566 slugging %.
Why He Won’t Go Into The Hall:
Like I stated before, Fielder had to retire early because of neck injuries. What could have been multiple more years of productive seasons, was limited to only 12 seasons in the bigs. However, Fielder was not an MVP level player into his seasons with The Rangers. In his first season in Texas, Fielder suffered a spinal injury, and caused him to undergo neck surgery. Even when he was healthy, Fielder only batted for a .247/.360/360 line with 3 homeruns and 16 RBI’s in 178 PA’s. This was by far his worst showing in the big leagues. While he did bounce back in 2015, made The All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, and batted a near career high .305, Fielder only hit 23 home runs, his lowest full-season total. Fielder’s last season in the bigs was the most disappointing in his career. His plate discipline had disappeared, as he only had a .292 OBP. His average dipped to just .212, and his power was non-existent with only a .334 slugging % and 8 home runs in 370 PA’s. Fielder had just crossed the 300 home run plateau too, giving him just 312 homeruns in his career. That doesn’t even place him in the top 100 all time in homeruns, and puts him at 120 all time. Fielder had also just passed 1028 RBI’s. With 1028, Fielder ranks 255th all time in RBI’s, and 66th all time among 1B’s. Fielder’s overall WAR of 23.6 doesn’t even rank in the top 100 of first basemen either (107 all time). Plus if you look at his season-by-season stats, Fielder truly only had 4 elite seasons. This includes his 2007 season, his 2009 season, his 2011 season, and 2012 season. In each of those seasons, Fielder hit at least .288/.412/.528 (an OPS of .900+) with 30 homeruns, 108 RBI’s, and had a 153 wRC+.
So what’s the verdict? Fielder had done a lot in his 12 seasons in the bigs, but could have done much more if he had stayed healthy, and wasn’t forced to retire. His injuries and forced retirement really affected his chances. If Fielder had like 3-5 more seasons in where he hit around .270-.280/.350/.450 with 20-30 homers and 80 RBI’s, we might have a different discussion here. At the most, Fielder would go in on his last few ballots (8-10), but if he does not make The Hall, I would not be surprised at all.