Prince Fielder was selected by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America as the Texas Rangers’ Player of the Year after leading them in batting average, RBIs and home runs in his comeback season.
Fielder was the Rangers’ lone All-Star in 2015 and has already been named the American League Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News this off-season after hitting .305 with 23 homers and 98 RBIs. He tied with Mitch Moreland for the team lead in homers.
The performance, which included him leading the American League in batting average for much of the first half, came a year after he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. He also stepped in the role as the Rangers’ primary designated hitter to allow Moreland, a better defender, to play first base regularly.
.377 Prince Fielder’s batting average in May, when he also hit nine homers and drove in 28 runs to tie for the major league lead
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Fielder’s power was hit-and-miss, with nine of his homers coming in May, but he carried the Rangers’ offense until Moreland, Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo found their strokes after the All-Star break.
Fielder will be honored Jan. 22 at the Dr Pepper Awards Dinner, which will be held at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine. For tickets, go to www.texasrangers.com/awards.
Free agency opens
The end of the World Series, captured in five games by Rangers spring training roommate Kansas City, brought forth the beginning of free agency, and six Rangers hit the open market.
Right-handers Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis, who combined for 30 wins in 2015, and slugger Mike Napoli, an August addition who helped jump-start the lineup against left-handers, are the three big names, with right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and outfielders Will Venable and Drew Stubbs also free to sign with any club.
Gallardo, the Fort Worth resident, is the most intriguing case. The Rangers are expected to make him a qualifying offer, which for 2016 is a one-year contract at $15.8 million. No player has ever accepted a qualifying offer, bypassing the one-year sure thing in pursuit of a lucrative multiyear deal.
The Rangers would receive a first-round compensation draft pick if Gallardo signs elsewhere.
General manager Jon Daniels said last month that the Rangers will address the starting rotation this off-season. Lewis, who won a career-high 17 games, would come more at a more affordable price than Gallardo.
Infielder Jurickson Profar was named to the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game on the strength of a .607 slugging percentage after seven games.
The 22-year-old, who has missed the past two seasons because of an injured right shoulder and is limited to DH duties, was batting .286 but six of his eight hits in 28 at-bats were for extra bases. He hit the game-tying homer Oct. 22 in his AFL debut for the Surprise Saguaros.
The game (7 p.m. Saturday) will be televised on MLB Network.