Brewers: What if Prince Fielder had stayed in Milwaukee?
By Tyler Koerth
With recent talks regarding if Ryan Braun‘s number will be retired in Milwaukee following his baseball career, I asked myself “What if Prince Fielder had stayed in Milwaukee?”. While his contributions with the Brewers in his seven seasons with the team is not enough, what would have happened if he stayed?
Prince Fielder left the Brewers after the magical 2011 season in which the team fell just short of a World Series appearance in losing to the rival Cardinals in the NLCS. He would go on to sign a 9 year, $214 mil contract with the Detroit Tigers.
However, after just two seasons with the Tigers, and two very uninspiring postseason performances that resulted in a World Series loss to the Giants in 2012 and an ALCS loss to the Red Sox in 2013, Fielder was traded to the Rangers. Once in Texas, Fielder struggled to remain healthy and announced his premature retirement from baseball in July of 2016 after a second cervical fusion surgery.
How do his stats compare to other Brewer greats?
Although Fielder’s seven-year Brewer career seems so short, he did manage to make the leaderboard among several offensive categories. To date, Fielder holds the best Brewer on base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.540), and on-base plus slugging percentage (929). He is third on the home run leaderboard (230), fourth in total base on balls (566), and seventh in runs batted in (656).
Had Prince Fielder remained a Brewer throughout the duration of his 12 year career he would move up into second place on the home run leaderboard trailing only Ryan Braun, he would be second in total walks trailing Robin Yount, and would be third in runs batted in trailering Ryan Braun and Robin Yount. Of course we can’t expect this is how his stats would have turned out had he stayed in Milwaukee, but it is fun to speculate.
Prince Fielder debuted for the Brewers in 2005 and would get his first full crack at a season in 2006, where he finished 7th in rookie of the year voting. Throughout the remainder of his Brewer seasons he would compile various awards such being a three-time All Star, Home Run Derby champion (2009), All Star Game MVP (2011), and two Silver Slugger awards. He finished third in MVP voting in 2007, fourth in 2009, and third in 2011 when Braun won the award. Fielder was on the team in 2008 when the Brewers ended their 26 year playoff drought and led the team to the NLCS in 2011.
It is unclear as to if the Brewers would have had more postseason appearances had Fielder stayed with the organization beyond 2011. Fielder leaving started a spiral of seeing home grown talent leave the organization that led to a few seasons of underachieving before a full rebuild in 2015.
Hall of Fame
While other Brewer greats who have had their numbers retired are all in the Hall of Fame, Fielder is currently not eligible since he has not been out of the league for five seasons. Fielder will become eligible in 2022.
With a career cut short due to injury, it is hard to visualize Fielder entering Cooperstown.
As it stands today, Prince Fielder’s number will not be retired by the Milwaukee Brewers. Long time Brewer great Cecil Cooper‘s number isn’t even retired by the organization. However, if Fielder and the Brewers had come to terms, he continued to play at the high level he was in the early to mid 2010s, and the Brewers made an additional postseason appearance or two, I think it is fair to speculate the Brewers would be retiring his number then.
The Brewers opted to sign Braun for the long-term and were extremely unlikely to be able to sign both him and Fielder to contract extensions.