It’s not quite on par with Dirk Nowitzki sheepishly accepting the NBA’s MVP trophy days after his top-seeded Mavs were upset by the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs in 2007, but there’s something hollow about the Rangers’ Prince Fielder winning Comeback Player of the Year.
Despite his bounce-back year from neck surgery, he just isn’t the power hitter the Rangers bargained for. And he was invisible when his team needed him most in the playoffs.
It seems nitpicky to be underwhelmed by a player who hit .307 and drove in 98 runs a year after missing most of the season with a serious neck injury. But the Rangers acquired Fielder in exchange for Ian Kinsler in hopes of penciling him and 40+ homers at 1st base for years to come. Some of us even projected that his left-handed power and Arlington’s short right-field porch would add up to 50-something homers.
That just hasn’t happened.
Admittedly not near the fielder as Mitch Moreland, Fielder is resigned to being only the Designated Hitter. And while he’s adjusted his hitting approach to take advantage of defenses’ over-shifts, Fielder is undergoing an undeniable power outage. He had 23 homers this season, the fewest of any full season during his 11-year career. He hit as many as 50 homers in 2007. But in 205 games with the Rangers he’s managed only 26.
And in the Rangers’ 5-game ALDS loss to the Blue Jays, Fielder was non-existent. Needed more than ever with Adrian Beltre limited with back tightness, Fielder hit only .150 in 20 at-bats with more strikeouts (four) than hits (3), no extra-base hits and only one RBI.
It’s great that he rebounded to win this award. But for the Rangers’ to continue their growth, next year he needs to be back in the MVP conversation.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.