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Happy birthday, Prince Fielder

Former Ranger Prince Fielder turns 36 today

Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Happy birthday to Prince Fielder, who turns 36 years old today.

Holy crap...Prince Fielder is only 36?

Fielder has seemingly been gone forever, but he retired due to chronic neck issues in the middle of the 2016 season. Although the Rangers worked out a deal with the insurance company insuring Fielder’s deal that allowed the team to release Fielder and collect on the policy, rather than keeping him on the 40 man roster, as is normally required, had he not been released, he would still have been a Ranger in 2020, in what was the final year of the 9 year, $214 million deal he signed with the Detroit Tigers prior to the 2012 season.

Fielder’s unfortunate injury-related decline and premature retirement shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he was a tremendous offensive player in his prime. Fielder slashed .287/.394/.539 in his age 22-28 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Detroit Tigers.

After a down year in 2013, the Tigers shipped Fielder, along with $30 million, to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler, a deal that is arguably the worst of Jon Daniels’ tenure in Texas. After Fielder missed most of 2014 due to a neck injury that necessitated surgery, Fielder had a solid 2015 campaign that helped Texas win the A.L. West. He struggled in 2016, however, before it was determined mid-season that he needed career-ending neck surgery.

(And before we start up the “why didn’t the Rangers give him a physical before trading for him?” talk, keep in mind he had a year-end physical with the Tigers at the end of 2013 and a physical at the start of spring training for the Rangers in 2014, neither of which revealed this problem.)

Fielder was a legitimately great hitter whose career ended too soon. Here’s hoping he’s spending today with his family and enjoying his retirement.