When Prince Fielder steps into the batter’s box, he casts an imposing shadow. At just under six feet tall and 275 pounds, the portly first baseman strikes real fear into every pitcher.
With a dangerous bat and surprisingly nimble glove and feet, Milwaukee is tied with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central (45-40), and should contend the rest of the way.
Before the Brewers were handed the second loss in three games by the host Minnesota Twins last Sunday, Fielder was named to his third All-Star squad after driving in an NL-best 69 runs, posting a .416 on-base percentage (second), a .582 slugging mark (third), with 21 homers (third), and 173 total bases (third).
Prince is the son of Cecil, a longtime power source with several big-league teams including the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, which he helped to the 1996 World Series championship.
The pair are the only father-son combination to have slammed 50 homers in a season. Sadly, they don’t speak and haven’t been close in years.
Like many modern-day players, Fielder, who rapped 50 homers in 2007 and 46 in 2009, prefers to wear his uniform baggy. As a result, he appears even heavier.
But don’t let his weight fool you because there have been plenty of large players like Babe Ruth, Mickey Lolich, Greg Luzinski, Fernando Valenzuela, and David Wells, who were exceptional athletes.
Even so, Fielder, with the assistance of his wife, has curbed his calories by becoming a vegetarian prior to the 2008 season.
Fielder is well-paid to hit the long ball and drive in runners. Since 2006, his first full-time season, he’s been wildly productive. That year, Fielder hit 28 homers with 81 runs batted in, and has averaged 37 homers and 106 RBI.
Fielder signed a one-year deal with Milwaukee, and will be a free agent at the end of 2011. It’s going to take a boat load of dough to keep him in the Dairy State.
The Brewers recently visited Yankee Stadium, and according to New York Daily News columnist John Harper, a major-league scout was seen watching Fielder take batting practice from the press box.
“Man, I’d hate to think how many he could hit in this band box,’’ he said as the 27-year-old left-handed hitting slugger launched countless balls into orbit. “If I’m the Yankees, he’s the guy I sign, even with (Mark) Teixeira here. Put Fielder in this lineup as the designated hitter and they might never lose.”
Knocking balls a long distance seem simple as pie for Fielder, who has driven in 100 runs or more three times, and has a high of 141 in 2009.
That same year in St. Louis, Fielder put on a majestic power display during the Home Run Derby Monday prior to the All-Star Game, and became the first Brewer to win it.
The elder Fielder says his son may wind up with the crosstown Mets. “I don’t think the Yankees are gonna get him,’’ he reasoned. “But I think if everything goes well on the other side, the Mets are one of those teams that if they get that [owner Fred Wilpon’s]financial situation all squared away, they could get him.”
Which ever team signs Fielder, he’s going to be a very wealthy young man.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.