It really isn’t hard to recognize this player. Many Brewers fans think of this man when talking about great names in Brewers history. In this edition of Past and Present, we’re going to be taking a look at Prince Fielder’s career.
Before the Brewers
A first round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2002 draft, Prince Fielder was already destined for greatness. His father, former Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder, made a name for himself in the world of major league baseball, and now it was Prince’s turn to carry the Fielder name into a world of legacy.
In his senior year of high school, Prince Fielder hit .524 with 10 home runs, 13 doubles, and 41 RBI. This impressive year helped him earn the All-Space Coast Player of the Year in 2002.
Fielder’s Professional Career
Prince Fielder would start off the 2005 season playing with the Nashville Sounds, and would later be a designated hitter for the Brewers during interleague play. He earned his major league call-up on June 13, 2005, and two nights later hit a double off Hideo Nomo. He also drove in his first big league run with his second hit against Tampa Bay. The Brewers already had Lyle Overbay playing first base regularly for them, so having Fielder there would almost be useless.
But, things quickly changed for Fielder as he would receive a call-up again on August 17, 2005 and finished off the season in the major leagues as a pinch-hitter. At the time, he was the 6th-youngest player in the entire league. The Brewers traded Lyle Overbay to the Toronto Blue Jays; And Prince Fielder would become the Brewers’ starting first baseman.
2006: The Rookie Year
He had a little rough start to the beginning of the season, but quickly took off. In April, he was named the National League’s Rookie of the Month. All throughout the 2006 season, Prince Fielder would lead all major league rookies in homeruns, clocking in at 28. Defensively, he had the lowest zone rating at .804. Even with the struggles, Fielder hit over 18 home runs, breaking the Brewers rookie record previously held by Greg Vaughn.
2007: Smashing Records
Prince Fielder earned the starting first baseman position at the 2007 All-Star games over both Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols, both of whom were MVP’s.
In August of ’07, Fielder became the first Brewer to be featured in the ESPN Body Issue. Christian Yelich did this in 2019, as well.
September would show Fielder breaking the Brewers franchise record for home runs in a season, when he hit his 46th. The record’s previous holders were Richie Sexson (twice) and Gormon Thomas. In the same month, he became the youngest player to ever reach 50 home-runs in a single season.
Fielder finished the season winning the Silver Slugger, being named the Milwaukee Brewers Team MVP, the Player’s Choice Outstanding NL Player, and was voted the NL’s Hank Aaron Recipient.
2008: Chasing the Wild Card
2008 showed a bit of a struggle for Fielder, as he and his agent were unable to come up with a long term contract with Milwaukee. Prince Fielder would go on to sign a one-year, $670,000 contract. However, Prince Fielder did help the Brewers keep up in the NL Wild Card race. He would be named the National Player of the Week for the week of September 15th, with a .462 batting average and a 1.038 slugging percentage.
2009: Home Run Derby Champ
Prince Fielder was able to avoid arbitration, signing a two-year, $18 million contract with the Brewers.
Fielder hit his first career grand slam against the Cleveland Indians. Additionally, he was also one of four NL first basemen to be named to the 2009 NL All-Star Team. Fielder won the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby with a total of 23 runs, the sixth-most in the derby’s history.
He would set the Brewers’ record for single-season RBI at 127, beating Cecil Cooper’s record of 126 from 1983. Eventually, he finished the season with 141 RBI’s, which surpassed his father’s own career record of 133.
2011: The Pennant Chase
In January, Fielder and the Brewers finalized a one-year, $15.5 million contract. He batted .299, led the National League in intentional walks, and was second in the league in home runs with 38. He had the second-highest Brewer career slugging at .540 and OPS at .929. Fielder was behind only Yount in career home runs (230).
Fielder was just one of three Brewers who had four 100-RBI seasons, right behind Cecil Cooper and fellow teammate Ryan Braun. Also, he and Braun both hit 30+ home runs in the season, making it the fourth time they had done this.
In January of 2012, Prince Fielder signed a 9-year, $214 million dollar contract with the Detroit Tigers. In his first season with the American League team, he was voted to the All-Star team as a starting first basemen. Not only that, but he also participated in the Home Run Derby, which he would go onto win. This was Fielder’s second time winning the derby and was the first to win for both the National and American League.
He would finish out the 2012 season with a career-best .313 batting average and 30 home-runs. Fielder made his first trip to the World Series in 2012 with the Tigers, unfortunately losing to the San Francisco Giants.
In 2013, Fielder made his fifth All-Star Game appearance where he hit a lead off triple off of Jason Grilli. In the regular season, Fielder hit a .279 with 25 home runs, making that the lowest HR total of any of his eight major league seasons. He would play all 162 games in the season, and played his 500th consecutive game that September. Fielder ended up batting .278 in the ALDS against the Oakland A’s, but this was the beginning of his decline.
The Fall of Fielder
Prince Fielder went to the Texas Rangers in 2014 and underwent neck surgery that would end his season. At the time of his June departure, Fielder had 3 home runs with .247 batting average. Fielder was selected as a designated hitter in the 2015 All Star Games, and ended up finishing the season with 23 home runs, 98 RBI, and a batting average of .305. 2015 was honestly just a year of ‘luck’ for Prince after his return from neck surgery.
In July of 2016, Prince Fielder was diagnosed with C4-C5 herniations in his neck, meaning his career was in jeopardy. A month later, Fielder would announce he wouldn’t be able to continue playing professional baseball due to his injuries. He was released in 2017 by the Rangers.
Fielder is considered retired from professional baseball. I think it would be the right thing for Milwaukee to retire his number, as he contributed so much to the team and really made his name known during his time as a Brewer. He truly is one of the greatest Brewers of all time.
MORE BREWERS PAST AND PRESENT
- JJ Hardy
- Rickie Weeks
- Orlando Arcia
- Jeff Cirillo
- Cecil Cooper
- Paul Molitor
- Justin Smoak
- Ben Sheets
- Bob Uecker
- Keston Hiura
- Josh Hader
- Ted Simmons
- Gorman Thomas
- Pete Vuckovich
- Rollie Fingers
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