Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Prince Fielder Protection Myth

I keep seeing the same thing written over and over about Prince Fielder since he was shipped off to The Lone Star State. “He provided so much protection for Miggy! How will this affect Cabrera? Doom! Doom, I tell you!”

/jumps out window

In fact, two of my least favorite Detroit sportswriters have made the same claim in their recent articles written in the aftermath of the Fielder/Kinsler trade. Here, let them tell you.

But know this. No matter how laid-back Fielder might be, he still scares pitchers. His hulking shadow behind Miguel Cabrera was the reason Miggy saw better pitches.

Obviously, Cabrera will return to first base, where he belongs. Then again Cabrera benefited with Fielder hitting behind him. Fielder’s potential danger certainly helped Cabrera win his two American League’s most valuable player awards.

After their claims, each of them supplied statistics to back up these claims.
Hahahahaha…no they didn’t. This is Detroit sportswriting. Facts and statistics are for suckers. For NERDS.

So let me do it.

/puts on dork glasses

Prince Fielder spent the past two seasons hitting behind Cabrera in the lineup. Before that, Miggy was backed up by Victor Martinez in 2011 and Carlos Guillen/Brennan Boesch in 2010. Yes, Cabrera won the MVP the two seasons with Prince hitting behind him. But was he really that much better? And can you really give Fielder credit for that?

Onto the stats. We’ll start with Avg/OBP/SLG/OPS.

2010: .328/.420/.622/1.042
2011: .344/.448/.586/1.033
2012: .330/.393/.606/.999
2013: .348/.442/.636/1.078

Oddly enough, Cabrera’s worst slash lines from the past four years were in Prince’s better of his two Tiger seasons. (Also, it was his Triple Crown year…go figure.) If you go by these numbers, it seems that Fielder made little to no impact on Cabrera’s numbers.

How about homers and RBI? (I know, saberheads, just wait.)

2010: 38, 126
2011: 30, 106
2012: 44, 139
2013: 44, 137

Okay. His homers are up. But RBI are more indicative of the success of guys in front of Cabrera in the lineup, not behind him, despite what sportswriters over 60 seem to think.

How about some advanced metrics, or as I imagine Jerry Green calls them, “poppycock”?

oWar                           OPS+

2010: 7.0                     178
2011: 7.9                     179
2012: 7.8                     164
2013: 8.9                     187

w/RC+                        w/OBA

2010: 171                    .431
2011: 177                    .437
2012: 166                    .417
2013: 192                    .455

Look at those again. A few things jump out at me. One, holy crap is Miguel Cabrera good. Two, it’s amazing that he put up the numbers he did in 2013 while being half-dead. Three, Cabrera’s numbers with Prince behind him were worse when Prince was producing and better when Fielder wasn’t. That’s odd. And four, and most importantly to this post, overall Prince Fielder didn’t really have that huge of an impact on Cabrera’s numbers. This takes me back to point one.

Miguel Cabrera is really good at baseball. Stop giving credit to Prince Fielder for that.

The only place I can find with an interesting difference in the numbers is in Miguel’s intentional walks totals.

2010: 32
2011: 22
2012: 17
2013: 19

But as you can see, Victor’s presence in the lineup in 2011 was just as good of protection as Prince was in the two years that followed. 2010 was the year everyone walked Miggy. That’s what happens when Brennan Boesch is his “protection”. This will not be the case in 2014.

Miguel Cabrera will be fine. I’m not trying to take anything away from Prince Fielder. He’s a dangerous man in the batter’s box and I expect him to explode next year in the band box the Rangers play in. But for Albom, Green, and all the others to just keep spouting this off without doing any research annoys me. It doesn’t surprise me, but it annoys me to no end. If only we could convince Mitch to stick to making money off dead people and Jerry to argue with clouds in his own back yard.

I just don’t like seeing credit for the accomplishments of the greatest Tiger hitter of my generation given to another person. Especially when the easily accessible numbers do not support it.

1 comment:

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