Yesterday I took a look at the expectations I had for Ryan Braun in 2009. Braun has become "Mr. Brewer."
Today, I'm going to examine a man who has gone from a beloved member of the Brewers to someone that was outcast for his antics in the past year: Prince Fielder.
In 2007, Prince Fielder became the youngest player in the history of the game to hit 50 home runs. Fans in Miller Park shouted chants of MVP and Fielder became the most popular Brewers player since Robin Yount.
Spring Training 2008 rolled around and all the goodwill Fielder built up was lost in an instant. Fielder refused to sign a long-term deal with the Brewers. He had been unhappy with the raise that the Brewers offered him a year prior and was content just biding his time knowing his time would come for a huge pay day.
Fielder's contract issue was not the only distraction for the young slugger. Fielder, although proclaiming a recent transition to a vegan lifestyle, was noticeably heavier, and continued to put on weight throughout the season.
His production dropped in every single offensive category, including 16 less home runs than in 2007.
Many people had given up on any sort of a future for Fielder in a Brewers uniform and almost everyone thought he would be traded for a stud pitcher in the winter.
Surprisingly, Fielder was not traded this past winter. In fact, he signed a two-year extension, buying out his first two years of arbitration for $18 million. He then showed up at the Brewers Winter Warm-Up looking in better shape and appearing to be happy for the first time in over a year.
A happy Prince Fielder is very dangerous for the rest of baseball.
He has shown he has power to lead the league in home runs. He has also turned into a disciplined hitter, as well.
The biggest weakness in Fielder's game may lie defensively, leading many to believe that his future still lies with an American League team as a designated hitter.
Fielder is primed for a return to the numbers he produced in 2007.
Does that mean another 50 home run season? I wouldn't be surprised by that at all.
You can expect his average to hover between .285 and .300 all year long. His high walk numbers will ensure a very good on-base percentage and his high number of doubles—along with all those home runs—will provide another huge year for his slugging percentage.
Along with Ryan Braun, Fielder will be in the hunt for the MVP. As much as fans of the Brewers may favor Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder is the one that puts the team on his shoulders and can carry the team to another postseason birth.
If he remains happy.
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