Prince Fielder May Have Turned the Corner This Season
The first two months of the 2016 MLB season were completely forgettable for Prince Fielder. The Rangers' slugger was in a horrific slump and was in danger of losing his starting job.
However, as the calendar turned to June, Fielder has seemingly found his stroke and is starting to become the clean-up hitter the Texas Rangers have come to expect.
Coming into June, Fielder had a strikeout rate of 18%, an ISO of .105, and a wRC+ of 43. That would put Fielder in the "Awful" tier of hitters in all of MLB and buried him at 350th in our nERD rankings at a miserable ranking of -1.64.
These totals were certainly hurt by a lower-than-expected BABIP, which hit a low of .217 for the whole month of May. That total was nearly 100 points below his career average .301 BABIP.
Possibly feeling the pressure of Jurickson Profar and Mitch Moreland taking his at-bats, Fielder has started to round into shape this month. In June he has finally gotten his average over the Mendoza Line thanks in large part to minuscule strikeout rate of 11.8% and a jump in his BABIP to a respectable .242.
With those jumps, Fielder has seen a rise in his in his wRC+ to a league-average number of 101 and an ISO of .189, which is near elite levels. The only concern is that even a .189 ISO is nearly 30 points below Fielder’s career level of .224.
Perhaps the best sign for the Rangers was this scolding shot that Fielder hit last night.
This Prince Fielder Official home run got out in a HURRY
Plus, peep the shimmy at the endhttps://t.co/iyNtzbUktu pic.twitter.com/OrXsi4Aaud
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) June 26, 2016
Per Statcast, Fielder’s home run left his bat with an 18-degree launch angle, which happens to be the lowest of his career. And with a low launch angle comes a few more crazy stats.
Prince Fielder's HR was unusually low in its height. It had the lowest apex of any this season pic.twitter.com/P6p5tukJDU
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 26, 2016
What this means is the Rangers, who already hold a 10-game division lead over the Houston Astros, are turning a potent offense into a truly elite one.
If Fielder can continue his improved form at the plate and reach his career numbers of a .224 ISO, 134 wRC+, and .890 OPS, Texas could be a tough out for anyone in the American League playoffs. And we may get to see even more of he and Martin Perez dancing!
Prince Fielder's handshake and dance game is strong 💃 pic.twitter.com/iV17amKbcx
— WFAA Sports (@wfaasports) June 26, 2016