Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Previewing the 2011 Season: Prince Fielder's Final Season With the Brewers
Fielder also holds the Brewers' single season record for games played (162 in 2009, tied with Carlos Lee, Richie Sexson, Gorman Thomas, Robin Yount), RBI (141 in 2009), extra base hits (87 in 2007, tied with Robin Yount), walks (114 in 2010, breaking his own record of 110 from 2009), and intentional walks (21 in both 2007 and 2009).
He currently holds the Brewers' career record for on-base percentage (.385, barely edging Jeff Cirillo's .383). He needs twenty home runs in 2011 to move into second place for career home runs as a Brewer, second only to Robin Yount (251). He'll likely become the career leader in intentional walks this year; he needs twelve and his previous single season low is seventeen (2010).
Needless to say, the 26-year-old has already had an impressive career. 2010 marked a "down" year by Fielder's standards. He batted .261/.401/.471 with 32 HR and 83 RBI. Nearly given the Barry Bonds treatment, Prince found himself swinging at too many pitches outside of the strike zone. 2010 tested his patience at the plate, if nothing else. He surely learned to wait for his pitch, knowing that at times he might see only one quality strike per at bat, at the most.
Brewers fans can expect another big year from Prince in 2011. He'll probably fall short of matching his 2009 numbers (.299/.412/.602, 46 HR, 141 RBI), but certainly will fare better than in 2010. For whatever reason, he has thus far performed best in odd-numbered years. I don't think that means he's destined for a big season in 2011, but I do think he learned from his struggles in 2010. He clearly lost some weight this offseason and I think he'll be especially motivated by the fact that he'll reach free agency after 2011 and that the Brewers should compete for the division crown all season after falling off so early in 2010. One thing is for sure: we Brewers fans should enjoy watching him while he's still a Brewer. Thankfully we'll have around 162 more chances to do so (and hopefully the Crew make the playoffs and give us more). Prince Fielder is a very good player, and in years to come he may even become a great player. I, for one, am thankful to have watched him play as a Brewer.