Key Stats: Prince Fielder was the most consistent player in fantasy baseball after April last year. A strange statement, but it’s true. He was the only player in the game that put up top fifty numbers each month after the season’s first month. Those top 50 numbers eventually resulted in Fielder ranking in the top ten overall for the second time in three years. Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols are the only other players who can make that claim. Consistency and safety are the words that classify Fielder at pick number eight.
Skeptics Say: He’s listed at 268 pounds. That doesn’t worry me too much considering he had perfect attendance last year, but it is concerning from a 5×5 outlook. By the time he’s placed on your roster you have zero steals. The weight also prevents him from getting some cheap hits. His average was below .300 last year, and has been every year for that matter. Hardly ideal from a top pick.
Peer Comparison: Tulo/Morales vs. Fielder/Zobrist. A lot of Cupid’s arrows are going toward Troy Tulowitzki these days. The hype is rising and Tulo has made his way into the picture as a possible first round pick. Mock Draft Central still has him back at 16, but let’s say you just really want him at pick number eight. There’s a choice. Either take Tulo or Fielder because the other guy won’t come back to you. Looking at the crystal ball, according to MDC Ben Zobrist (hitting third!) and Kendry Morales are available at 52 and 53. So what’s the better combo to own, Morales and Tulo or Zobrist and Prince?
Morales finished 6th in slugging percentage, but walked less than any player in the top 25 in slugging. Combining that fact with the losses of Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins in the lineup will lead to him being exposed this year. Given that Zobrist could again be playing multiple positions for the Rays his value can’t be falling right now.
Fielder and Tulo both had down years in 2008. The definition of down differs between them though. Fielder’s definition of down was a flight of stairs. Tulo’s definition of down was jumping out of a plane. There’s far less risk in taking Fielder.
The easy play is taking both Zobrist and Fielder.
Lineup Outlook: Consistency again is the theme with Fielder. He was the cleanup hitter in every game last season. Ryan Braun hit third in 156 games. What is kind of surprising about Braun is that he only walked 56 times. Fielder hitting behind him certainly had something to do with that, but if Braun continues his trend in raising his walk rate it would give Fielder a chance to actually drive in more than the 141 he drove in last season. That and Rickie Weeks staying healthy (bold prediction: Weeks will stay healthy this year).
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #2 First Baseman; ESPN.com: #9 Overall; Yahoo: #4 First Baseman and #10 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #8 Overall; Couch Managers: #6 Overall; FB 365: #3 First Baseman
Projection: Four straight years of 157 games guarantees that he will be one of the top three best run producers again.
101 R 44 HR 148 RBI 4 SB .290 AVG .995 OPS
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