A lot of hitters are having great seasons in Major League Baseball.
Giancarlo Stanton, Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper and Albert Pujols all have at least 23 home runs. Miguel Cabrera, Dee Gordon and Paul Goldschmidt are all batting at least .350. Mark Teixeira and Nolan Arenado lead the AL and NL, respectively, in RBIs with 53 and 68.
But what about Prince Fielder? The 31-year-old is hitting .348 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs, this after missing more than 100 games last season due to neck surgery.
What’s been the biggest difference for Fielder this season?
“I think it’s just his health,” MLB Network analyst Bill Ripken said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think when you go back and look at Prince, he’s one of those guys who you would not consider the athlete-looking guy, but all year every year prior to last year, you look at his game-played category and it was 160 and above. This was a very durable man. Last year, he had the beck problem (and) had it fixed.”
Ripken watched Fielder’s first game of the season. Fielder went 0-for-4 and Texas lost, 8-0.
And yet, Ripken was impressed.
“The way he was swinging the bat – the old saying, ‘Grip it and rip it’ – it looked like the old guy,” Ripken said. “Look, he protected Ryan Braun, who’s been an MVP. He protected Miguel Cabrera twice, who’s an MVP. Maybe this is his turn to stand out there and shine. I think his health is the big thing, but (look at his numbers before last year): he was as durable as anybody in the game.”
While Fielder looks like his old self, Ryne Sandberg did something Brandon Tierney never thought he would do: He resigned as Phillies manager last Friday.
Philadelphia (27-51) has the worst record in baseball.
“I’m not on the inside of that,” Ripken said, “but from the outside of it, I think I can lean in a little bit toward you and go, ‘Dude, what are you doing? You’re in a situation where you’re a Hall of Famer, you went back down to the minor leagues to manage because that’s what you thought people wanted you to do to get to a big-league gig. Now you finally got a big-league gig, and even though those things aren’t working out and looking the way you wanted it to probably two years ago, the fact that you’re just going to pull the plug and resign, it lends me to believe (he thinks), Okay, this thing ain’t cut out for me. I’ve been there, done it. I don’t want to do this anymore.’
“Because I can’t see anybody going out there on a limb and saying, ‘Hey, our next guy, we’re going to get Ryno.’ So I kind of question it. It must have been so bad in there – and maybe he didn’t have any power. Maybe his hands were tied. But for him to (quit) is certainly questionable.”