Key Stats: Prince Fielder took his talents to the Motor City after a fifth consecutive season with over 30 home runs. Only Ryan Howard has more home runs since 2007, but Fielder has an OPS that is more than 50 points higher than Howard during that stretch. Fielder is one of only a handful of hitters in the league that have hit 50 home runs in a season and could do it this season.
Skeptics Say: Fielder had a home OPS that was .227 points better at home than it was away from Miller Park last year. In 6 games at Comerica Park he is a .174 hitter. It’s a small sample size, but concerning nonetheless. Last season, Comerica was actually one spot ahead of Miller Park (9th and 10th) according to the metrics at ESPN Park Factors. Oh and let’s not forget the possibility for a total lack of motivation after getting paid.
Peer Comparison: Albert Pujols stole most of the headlines away from Fielder’s departure, but what player will benefit most from the lineup around him? The easy answer is to say that it’s Fielder because of Miguel Cabrera’s presence. Yet if we add the totals for the 8 starters on each team from last season, the Angels actually have 7 more home runs (including Mark Trumbo and not Kendrys Morales). Obviously this ignores the number of at-bats a player like Andy Dirks had or the fact that Chris Iannetta wasn’t on the Angels last year. The Tigers lineup did have more runs from their other eight hitters and more RBI.
Lineup Outlook: The Tigers were 4th in runs last season while the Brewers were 11th. Of course Fielder is in the picture in Detroit mainly because one of the Tigers best hitters from that team is out, but this lineup is still going to be a better fit for Fielder. My first instinct is to call Miguel Cabrera versus Ryan Braun a wash, but Cabrera has never had a hitter as intimidating as Fielder to hit around him whereas that is all Braun has ever had. I think having Cabrera in the lineup will help Fielder more than Braun therefore (and that Cabrera will be nasty of course). I am also inclinded to say that from a lineup perspective Brennan Boesch could be better than Corey Hart for Fielder. Boesch was clearly the better player in the first half last season, but an injury derailed him down the stretch. The three biggest questions in the Tigers lineup will be what Austin Jackson shows up, if Alex Avila repeats or regresses, and will the coin land on heads or tails in Jhonny Peralta’s season.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #6 First Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #5 First Baseman & #14 Overall; Yahoo: #5 First Baseman & #14 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #5 First Baseman & #14 Overall; RotoChamp: #7 Overall
Projection: Fielder is going to get a ton of walks with Delmon Young hitting behind him this season.
94 R 39 HR 124 RBI 2 SB .290 AVG .960 OPS in 700 plate appearances