Prince Fielder to Tigers: Chicago White Sox Even Farther from AL Central Title

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJanuary 24, 2012

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 16, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Prince Fielder signed with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, according to Fielder took a nine-year, $214 million contract to join the Tigers. While the Chicago White Sox looked to have only a small chance of winning the AL Central title, their chances became much smaller with the signing of Prince Fielder with the Tigers.

White Sox fans had reason to raise their hopes a little bit last week when Victor Martinez of the Tigers went down for the season with a torn ACL. With the Tigers missing a huge run producer, the White Sox had a little bit more of a chance of competing in the division.

A Tigers team with a little less scoring punch could be matched by a White Sox team led by pitching and helped with a little bit of power hitting.

Now, thoughts of a John Danks-led White Sox team fighting to a division title are out the window. The Tigers once again look like the tantamount offense they were last season. Fielder partners with Miguel Cabrera (30 home runs, 1.033 OPS in 2011), Jhonny Peralta (21 home runs, .824 OPS) and Alex Avila (19 home runs, .895 OPS) in a powerful lineup.

The Tigers were third in on-base percentage (.340) and fourth in on-base-plus-slugging (.773) last season. Look for those figures to be even higher next season.

Fielder alone is a monster of a slugger. The seven-year pro has 230 career home runs, a .390 career on-base percentage and a .929 on-base-plus-slugging rate. In 2011, Fielder hit 38 home runs, drove in 120 runs, had a .415 on-base percentage and a .981 on-base-plus-slugging rate.

The White Sox likely won't be able to beat him with their pitchers. Danks might improve, and Gavin Floyd—if the White Sox keep him—could come up with his best season after allowing only 2.1 walks per nine innings last season. Jake Peavy could come back healthy—or maybe just half as healthy as he says he is.

Nevertheless, it likely won't be enough to keep Fielder from dominating them. That is, unless Chris Sale has the crackling stuff as a starter that he had in the bullpen.

What the White Sox can hope for is Fielder having a bad transition to the American League. Sometimes hitters don't do well against the tougher pitching in the American League. Adam Dunn is a fine example, although Dunn struck out more than Fielder did at any point in his career and never made contact as much.

This will be a long season for the White Sox. That was given before the Tigers signed Fielder. Mark Buehrle left town. The White Sox have a manager in Robin Ventura who is new to coaching at the professional level. They traded Carlos Quentin, their No. 2 run producer.

Now, with Fielder in Detroit, the White Sox are a few miles away from competing for the AL Central, not only for 2012, but also for a couple of seasons after that.