Kelly Gavin, Texas Rangers
In less than two months, the 2014 baseball season will begin. The Texas Rangers are poised to return to the postseason, but there are a good amount of questions surrounding the season.
Question: Will Prince Fielder make the Rangers look smart?
There seems to be a pretty even split among Rangers fans and the rest of the baseball world. Rangers fans were, for the most part, thrilled with the November deal that sent Ian Kinsler to Detroit for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder. A lot of other people, however, are claiming the Tigers got the better end of the deal for getting rid of a hefty contract for a guy that many expect to break down before his term comes up.
Fielder is also coming off a career-low 25 home runs in 2013 with the Tigers to go with just 106 RBIs and a .279 batting average. He also had another disappointing postseason with the Tigers — his second straight — and turned many folks off with his attitude about losing in the playoffs, pulling a Tony Romo and writing it off as "not the worst thing that could happen in life."
But there are several reasons to think Fielder could bounce back in 2014. First off, the obvious. He's going to be hitting in Globe Life Park for 81 games. Second, he's going to be hitting third instead of cleanup and will finally have protection behind him instead of providing it in recent years to league MVPs Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera. Third, he says he's in the best shape of his life, so that's always promising.
Fielder's best three MLB seasons came in 2007, 2009 and 2011, all in Milwaukee. In those three years, he averaged 45 home runs, 127 RBIs and averaged a .295 batting average. His on-base percentage was above .400 in 2009 and 2011, as well as 2010 and 2012.
The Rangers need Fielder to put a season more like those three, and with everything playing in his favor, it seems he's a pretty likely candidate to do so.