This one is really going to hurt. Today’s WDTBGW, is one that I have been putting off because I did not want to talk about it. So, inorder to ease ourselves into it, take a second to listen to this beautiful song. It is entitled: “C’mon Prince (Stay in Milwaukee)”
Not only are the lyrics silly, but they are stirring and moving. A special thank you to The Baseball Project for writing the most emotionally touching song since the Theme from Titanic.
If that is not enough to get you ready for the upcoming Prince Fielder buzz-kill, here is a terrific article from Lew Freedman at Call to the Pen. Wherever Prince ends up, he is going to produce. I am not a believer of the “weight dictates longevity”. It certainly helps, but Prince has at least 5-7 more good years in him. Would be better if they were in Brew City.
Ok, enough of the warm and fuzzy stuff, it is time to dig in to why the Brewers were unable to take down the St. Louis Cardinals. It is an on-going segment, which is now on the verge of completion.
Today’s Episode: Prince Fielder falls apart
During the 2011 regular season, Prince Fielder was the man. Clutch hits just seemed to be a part of his everyday life. On top of that, Prince increased his on-base percentage to a career high .415 (this means he was on base 41.5% of the time). This season he was different, he worked counts, stayed away from swinging at the first pitch, and he allowed Ryan Braun to steal bases in front of him. All of these things were new and exciting for Brewers fans, it became very clear that he was going to give us something special to remember him by, a World Series title.
As the Brewers clinched their first NL Central division title, almost every image on the field was of Prince and his partner in crime, Ryan Braun. These two men were the face of our franchise. They seemed almost super-human at times. Every “expert” and writer knew that if Ryan and Prince got during October, the Brewers would be tough to beat. Our postseason success rested on their shoulders, and everyone in the baseball world knew it. The 2011 Brewers could not survive in the playoffs without Prince and Brauny driving in loads and loads of runs. One of them delivered, while the other seemed to crumble over time.
Prince Fielder came into the 2011 NLDS, with a career .071 batting average in the postseason. In 2008, he vanished like rabbit in a magicians hat, producing 1 hit in 17 at-bats. After the regular season he had just completed, not one Brewer fan thought we would get an encore of that performance. Well, maybe someone did…and if it was you, shame on your for not preparing the rest of us.
Watching Prince bat in the playoffs started getting painful around Game 3 of the NLCS. It looked like his favorite movie from childhood was “Hackers” (see what I did there). During the NLDS, Prince looked pretty good, though not great, but certainly good enough for the Brewers to win the series. During the Arizona series, he hit .278 (respectable), with 1 homerun and 3 RBI’s. Nothing legendary, but in a 5 game series…he delivered a few key blows. All 5 of Fielders hits in that series came in the first four games. Which leads me to my next point.
Over the final 7 games of the postseason, Prince Fielder only had 4 hits. I will let that soak in.
Granted, 2 of those hits were homers, but each of them came in the first two games of the NLCS. One in a victory, the other to pull is within 9 runs of Game 2. After that, Prince began to slowly fall back into old habits. The big guy was swinging at every pitch he saw and was trying to hit it a mile. While in the past I would have said “It’s just Prince”, the 2011 season showed us a new Prince and we embraced his new found plate discipline. Quite frankly, old Prince kind of pisses me off.
As Prince continued to struggle at the plate, the rest of the team predictably followed suit. This could have been the BIGGEST component to turning that series completely around. Fielder was the teams offensive thermostat.
There is something I have beaten on since the season ended, Ryan Braun got on base in the 1st inning of 8 straight postseason games. This should have meant absolute domination from the Brewers, because if Braun was getting on base, that meant Prince would be batting in 8 straight 1st innings. Well guess what, I did some research, and Prince ended 5 of those 1st innings and recorded an out in one other. The two remaining games were a walk and a hit-by-pitch. That means in those 8 1st inning at-bats, Fielder had ZERO hits and recorded 6 outs. Not really something I want to spend much more time talking aboot (yes, aboot).
Prince Fielder wanted to leave Milwaukee as a World Series champion. Lord knows, we all wanted it too. The problem became his almost juvenile need for that closure, which lead to pressing. When you start to force things, it creates problems, especially at the plate. Prince was pushing with all of his might and it ended up being the teams undoing.
I firmly believe that Prince wanted to give us a Championship sooo badly, that he worked himself into a slump. It could not have come at a worse time though. When we needed him to be relaxed and swinging freely, he got all tight b-hole on us.
This was the hardest one for me to reflect on and in the end it had the least amount of details. Mostly, I did not want to really dig in to how bad he got statistically much more than this. I want to remember the good times with Prince, but there is no doubt that his inability to manufacture runs was one of the key factors to our early departure from October. He is not alone in shouldering this blame, but for some perspective, Iwill leave you with this final thought:
Fielder was out hit in the postseason by: Betancourt, Hairston Jr., and Lucroy.
Tomorrow is a happy prince article. So come on back. Same Brew time, same Brew channel.