This is something I have been wrestling with for the past couple of days. Believe me, no one was holding out more hope for a one-year encore than yours truly. By getting Prince back and pairing him with Braun and Ramirez, the Brewers would have been a powerhouse offense with a solid starting rotation. No question that they would have been the number 2 favorite in the NL behind the Phillies. In the end though, Prince got his money and he is gone. So, how bad is it going to be without him?
Truth is, if everything goes according to plan, the team may not even notice him being gone. Offensively that is.
You can never replace the person. Prince Fielder was one of the most genuine, likeable guys in all of baseball. On the field, he wore his emotions on his XXL sleeves. In the dugout he was always laughing and goofing around with his pals. Prince Fielder understood that baseball was a game, but at the same time he never wanted to lose. Those are the things the Brewers can never replace. Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart have essentailly lost a brother. Those four players basically grew up together over the past 5-6 years. Fielder was also the founder of the teams 2011 battlecry “Beast Mode”. These things can never truly be replaced.
However, on the field production can absolutely be replaced. Let’s just look at last seasons numbers for Prince Fielder and Aramis Ramirez:
Prince: 170 hits, 38 HR’s, 120 RBI’s, and .299 BA
Aramis: 173 hits, 26 HR’s, 93 RBI’s, and .306 BA
Ramirez had 3 more hits, 12 less HR’s, 27 less RBI’s, and a better batting average by 7 points.
Not all that different really. Then when you factor in what Mat Gamel could do (emphasis on could) and consider who used to play 3rd base (Casey McGehee), the Brewers have set themselves up to have almost no drop off at all. If anything, they could be better. Imagine if Gamel hits 20-25 HR’s, drives in maybe 80 runs and hits .285.
Let’s assume Gamel has the production I mentioned above and Ramirez duplicates his 2011 campaign. By combining their numbers you get:
2012 Brewers 1st and 3rd Baseman: 46 HR’s, 173 RBI’s, and a .295 batting average
Now let’s take Prince’s numbers and combine them with what Casey McGehee
2011 Brewers 1st and 3rd Baseman: 51 HR’s, 187 RBI’s, and a .267 batting average
When you look at this thing from that approach, losing Prince is almost a wash. Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio are smarter than me and probably have all kinds of stats projection programs and such, so they already know this. In order to keep the team on course to win the NL Pennant and possibly the World Series, they needed Ramirez and they need Gamel to be what we have always hoped.
So I ask you again, is losing Prince Fielder going to be as impactful on the 2012 season as many of us believed it to be? The pitching rotation is the same, so if the run production reamins about the same then the team should still be on the saem level as 2011, right? It makes sense in my brain. How about yours?