Detroit Tigers Won't Advance to World Series If Prince Fielder Doesn't Produce

Josh BerenterCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after a long fly ball was caught by Coco Crisp #4 of the Oakland Athletics in the second inning during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After three games in the American League Division Series, Detroit Tigers' first baseman Prince Fielder has gone 1-for-12.

Fielder, who earned the highest batting average of his career during the regular season, is hitting .083 with one walk and one strikeout in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics.

The 28-year-old hit .313 this season, which was the only time in his eight-year career he hit above .300. With the increased average, Fielder also put up similar power numbers to what he's accustomed to, putting together a complete performance in his first year donning the Old English D.

Fielder got robbed of a home run in the second inning of Tuesday's Game 3, and had a base hit taken away from him in the seventh, adding to the frustration of his sub .100 average this postseason.

But playoff struggles are nothing new for Fielder.

He averaged .237 in 38 at-bats last year for the Milwaukee Brewers, and now has a career average of .172 in 18 postseason games.

The Tigers lost their first game of the 2012 playoffs on Tuesday and had their lead against the A's reduced to 2-1.

And if Fielder continues to struggle, the Tigers aren't going anywhere.

Fielder has hit behind Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in every game this season, and because he was consistently producing, teams were forced to throw to Cabrera.

If Fielder isn't a threat, teams can pitch around Cabrera and essentially take the bat out of his hands.

The Tigers 1-4 hitters combined to go 1-for-15 last night, and Detroit has only scored eight runs in three games against the A's.

With Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander set to start in Game 4, and if necessary, Game 5, the Tigers are likely going to squeak past the A's, but if Fielder doesn't figure himself out, the Tigers are in trouble.

With Fielder's career postseason mediocrity, there have been whispers that he doesn't possess the "clutch gene."

I don't think there's a big enough sample to make that assessment, especially for someone who's been phenomenal in almost every regular season of his career.

But if he doesn't step up soon, and the Tigers falter because of it, lack of "clutch" might be a big part of Fielder's legacy.

The Tigers hope Fielder can get it going in Game 4 tonight in Oakland.

First pitch is scheduled at the Coliseum for 9:37 p.m. (EDT)