3 Keys to Getting Prince Fielder Back on Track for the Tigers
Fielder has, however, provided the Tigers with a consistency at the plate that would have been more expected from slugger Miguel Cabrera. It is Cabrera that leads the team with seven home runs and 22 RBI—categories Fielder was more likely to lead in 2012 for the Tigers—but Fielder is hitting a comfortable .318 for the season while Cabrera is clipping away at an uncharacteristic .272.
At some point the Tigers will need Fielder to produce the type of highlight-reel shots that were a big reason for his arrival in Motown in the first place. Fielder has two hits in each of his last four games and seems ready to break out but has yet to have a multiple home run game.
He has hit two dingers in his last three games, which could be a sign of warming up as Detroit is in desperate need of the theatrics that his rainbow-like bombs create. Let's look at some keys to getting Fielder into that monstrous long-range mode.
Consistency Throughout the Lineup
If the Tigers want Fielder to be the home run hitter they brought him to town to be, then the rest of the lineup needs to get Detroit's sluggish and inconsistent offense going.
Detroit is currently hitting .251 as a team, good for 14th overall in MLB, but most figured the Tigers to hover closer to the top of that list so their current placement can't be sitting well with manager Jim Leyland or his team.
It seems that Fielder has almost sacrificed his home run hitting ability for the the efficiency of consistent plate appearances because more than anything the Tigers have needed someone to show some dependability at the plate by hitting for average.
Realistically, that job belongs to Cabrera, but right now it's Fielder that has provided Detroit with the most steady diet of consistent hitting so far this season.
While no one in the Motor City is complaining about Fielder's OBP (.398), they'd certainly feel better if his RBI and home run total were double what it is right now. If Detroit wants Fielder to provide the type of swing that sends rockets into the seats, the guys around him have to create the game atmosphere to make that happen.
This means consistent team hitting to take the pressure off of Fielder's almost innate need to hit for average as he is right now.
Back off the Talk
The best medicine for Fielder's lack of missile launching may be to forget about it altogether.
Baseball is a funny game and pressure—whether undue or directly applied—can play on the psyche of a ball player and sometimes an entire team. The former and the latter are being experienced by both Fielder and his Tigers right now.
The hype and media circus that surrounded Fielder's arrival in Detroit this past winter have only slightly dulled, and that is largely due to an even brighter light shining on the Tigers' offensive struggles this season.
Neither spotlight has proved to be all that productive to the team or Fielder.
That said, the better angle for fans and the local sports media might be to back off on the pressure to produce and let the team find its way.
Everyone knows that Fielder is capable of breaking out of his long-ball funk—and when he does, look out. May someone take mercy on the American League pitching staffs that will get decimated by his lumber.
Get Miggy Going
As was to be expected, Fielder goes as Cabrera goes—this is to say if Cabrera starts banging, it will surely follow that Fielder will do the same.
Fielder is hitting .500-plus following a Cabrera hit, so it seems the greatest credence to Fielder's ability to produce will be Cabrera's capacity to provide at the plate as well.
Fielder hasn't truly been protected in the order, nor has Cabrera for that matter, due in large part of the lack of production around them. This, however, cannot continue to be the excuse for one of baseball's greatest 1-2 punches to be wallowing in their own categorical offensive struggles.
So far in 2012 pitchers have, for the most part, been able to work around the Fielder threat because of a lack of offensive production, leaving Fielder plate offerings that are difficult to jack out of the park on a routine basis as he did behind Ryan Braun in Milwaukee.
Seeing good pitches will be the key for Fielder, and that can come quickest by way of Cabrera hitting for his more usual .330-plus average. Delmon Young also needs to hit for a better average and provide some type of offensive threat.
If and when this happens, all bets are off and Detroit could be downright lethal, but that has yet to pan out for the duo that was expected to light the American League on fire this season.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist J. Cook is a member of B/R's MLB Coverage Team and contributes to B/R's MLB content and Detroit Tigers page. He also covers key sport interest stories for all of Detroit's major sports teams.
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