On the way out of his office on Monday afternoon, I asked Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister a simple question - Is Prince Fielder hurt?
Banister knew, or thought he knew, where I was going with the question - why is Prince Fielder struggling? An injury would explain it.
Banister insisted Fielder is not hurt, and that he is not struggling. Fielder went out and hit a two-run home run a few hours later to help beat the Astros.
WARNING - PREPARE TO BE FLOODED WITH BASEBALL NUMBERS
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Before that game, Fielder was struggling. On Aug. 1, Fielder was batting .330; on Sept. 12, that average was down to a highly respectable .306, but he had hit just one home run in the month of September.
In the first half of the season, Fielder hit .339 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI. He was carrying this team. Before this current series against the Houston Astros, he was batting under .270 with 4 home runs and 21 RBI in the second half of the season.
Those are struggling statistics compared to the production he had in the first half. There must be a reason. I’m going with age (31), and the high expectations he set for himself earlier in his career when he was in Milwaukee and Detroit.
Against the Astros in this series, Fielder has hit three home runs with eight RBI in the three games. That is the player that dominated the first half of the season and the player whose bat is so strong he can carry a club in a five or seven-game series.
Banister insisted that Fielder’s numbers would eventually reflect that of his career averages. That is not quite happening, but it’s close. His statistics are sliding only because Fielder’s numbers in the first years of his MLB career were absurd, and that unless he was taking steroids for breakfast, lunch and dinner and at snack time there was no way he would maintain his averages.
His career averages for a 162-game schedule are .288 with 33 home runs and 104 RBI.
Fielder is now batting .314 with with 21 home runs and 83 RBI. He is projected to finish with a .314 average, 23 home runs and 93 RBI. By most measures, that is a wonderful season but they are not the type of monster years he had with the Brewers.
There is a good chance Fielder will not eclipse more than 30 home runs and 100 RBI for only the third time in his career in which he has not been hurt.
There is a reason. And he’s not hurt.