Yes, this is a sponsored post but it's also a call to arms. Prince Fielder is back to being the Prince Fielder that baseball knows and fears and he's having a great season for the Texas Rangers. That's pretty good. So, what's the problem? The problem is that the Kansas City Royals luckbox'd into an American League pennant and it's ruining the All-Star ballot.
As I'm sure you remember, the Rangers had a terrible 2014 season which saw them break basically every record for injuries, DL trips, and time lost by players. One of those players that missed a chunk of the year was Fielder. Prior to the 2014 season, the big first baseman was as close to an Iron Man (a baseball players who plays every day, not Robert Downey Jr.) that baseball has had over the last few years -- between Prince's rookie season of 2006 and his season-ending neck injury in 2014, he led baseball with 1,325 games played.
So, of course, in the first year after he was traded to Texas, Prince Fielder played a total of 42 games and none beyond May 16. Before he was put on the DL for the first time in his career to have spinal fusion surgery, it's not like Prince was being Prince anyway. In those 42 games, Prince hit just three home runs and had an OPS of .720 and even that was inflated by 11 intentional walks because pitchers didn't know he was hurt and were still afraid of him.
It's no surprise then that when he made his return from his first major injury this season, after such a subpar showing last year, many felt that we had already seen the best of Prince Fielder and none of it came while wearing a Texas Rangers uniform.
Prince began 2015 demonstrating a willingness to hit line drives all over the field but the power wasn't there. Fielder hit .333 with an OPS of .813 in April. While he was producing with the bat, it wasn't in the same way that baseball was used to. Just six of Fielder's 28 hits in April were for extra bases. With just one home run on the month, Fielder looked more like Tony Gwynn than a former home run derby champion with six 30+ home run seasons under his belt.
There were encouraging signs, however. Prince was hitting the ball hard, he just wasn't hitting it in the air. In April, Prince had a 23.3% line drive rate which bettered his career average of 20.5% while he was only hitting a flyball about 31.5% of the time down from 39.8% career average. Additionally, with teams deploying a left-handed shift on him, he hit the ball the opposite way 26.0% of the time which was also higher than his career average total of 24.7%.
Before we had a chance to settle into a marriage with this new slap-hitting Prince Fielder, the calendar changed to May and Prince Fielder became Prince Fielder again. Here's what Fielder did in May: .377/.430/.656, 9 HR, 28 RBI.
If not for Jason Kipnis turning into Rogers Hornsby in May, Prince would have led the American League in virtually everything. He did lead the AL in home runs, RBI, and was second in total hits. He is currently hitting .355 which leads the American League. On May 3, the Rangers dropped to 8-16. It's no coincidence that Fielder's tear coincided with a run of 15 wins in 24 games to pull Texas to .500 on May's final day.
Currently at a .355/.407/.555 slash line on the year, Prince Fielder has been the Rangers best player and he's carried them through their best and worst stretches of the season. Fielder's wRC+ of 165 is good for 9th best in baseball and 5th best in the American League. Prince Fielder has been among the best baseball players at the plate this season.
Prince Fielder is also just third at his position in the All-Star Game voting.
Making the All-Star team as a first baseman in either league is always tough since that's where power hitters call home. Fielder is perhaps docked by the fact that he's classified as a first baseman on the ballot rather than a designated hitter, which he's begun to embrace this season. However, Nelson Cruz is listed as a designated hitter and if anyone has been better than Prince Fielder at the plate in 2015, it's Cruz.
Among AL first basemen on the ballot, Prince Fielder is -- perhaps deservedly -- behind Miguel Cabrera. However, he's also behind Eric Hosmer. While Hosmer is having a breakthrough season, he hasn't been better than Prince Fielder this year and he certainly isn't more of a "star" than Prince.
I suppose you could make the argument that Hosmer and Prince are close when you include defense, baserunning, and the fact that Hosmer actually is manning the position this year, but Hosmer is currently ahead of Prince in the voting by 1,472,498 votes! Hosmer is ahead of Fielder in the voting by more votes than Prince has total votes by almost a million votes! Hosmer has 2,053,237 votes to Fielder's 580,739 votes as of the last released totals on Monday.
Cabrera, perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter ever, is currently only ahead of Hosmer at first base for the All-Star game by just 70,515 votes. That's absurd.
In fact, a Kansas City Royal current occupies the top spot in five of the nine starting positions and they have a guy in second place in the voting at three of the other positions. Alex Rios had been out since early April until the last day of May and he has 1,249,073 votes. Yes, that Alex Rios. That Alex Rios is in fifth place in the outfield voting and has over 300,000 more votes than Michael Brantley.
Kipnis and Ian Kinsler combined don't have as many votes as Omar Infante. Mike Moustakas has nearly double the number of votes as Josh Donaldson which is just about the only ballot stuffing I approve of. Lorenzo Cain (who should be an All-Star) has more votes than Mike Trout (who should have his own wing at Cooperstown). Just a few votes behind Trout in the overall vote totals? Alcides Escobar.
Royals fans, we get it. Your team had a fun run in October after eking into the Postseason. But stop it. No one wants to see Kendrys Morales (Over a million votes above Prince Fielder's total) in the All-Star Game.
So, vote for Prince Fielder if for no other reason than he's actual baseball royalty who isn't a Royal.
Also, Joey Gallo should be in the All-Star Game because he's Joey Gallo and he's fun. If nothing else, he needs to be in the dinger derby. Put your crusade to use, KC and write-in Gallo.
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