When Prince Fielder — the definition of durability over the better part of the past decade — played just more than 40 games in 2014, it was deemed a major failure in his first season with the Texas Rangers after he was traded for longtime second baseman Ian Kinsler in a rare swapping of stars.
Fielder, who was said to have been in decline in 2013 with Detroit, managed just .247 with three homers in his 42 games before having to shut it down to undergo cervical fusion surgery, leaving doubts if he'd ever be effective again, much less worth the remaining $144 million on his contract. The trade was seen as an abject failure.
Now? Not so much.
Fielder is just a few points off the AL batting lead behind Miguel Cabrera with a .347 average — almost 40 points higher than his highest career average for a season — and he leads the AL with 110 hits to go with his 13 homers and 50 RBIs with a .943 OPS — higher than any number since 2011 when he was still in Milwaukee.
So when he was named to the AL all-star team on Monday evening, it had to have been a great feeling for the hefty slugger. In fact, he won the player vote as the AL's starting designated hitter, but he'll take a back seat to Nelson Cruz, who was voted to start the game at DH by the fans.
"I definitely appreciate it," he told Fox Sports. "It means a lot. The players like the way I've played. I've played hard. Hopefully I can keep it up and help my team win."