The Tigers dished out $214 million this past offseason to get Prince Fielder's thunderous bat in the lineup alongside Miguel Cabrera. The 28-year-old, on Detroit's radar since he reached the upper deck during batting practice as a boy in old Tiger Stadium while father Cecil played there, averaged 38 home runs per season and slugged .541 during his six years as a regular with the Brewers. But that power hasn't been on display so far for the Tigers, who enter play Monday at a disappointing 17-17 while ranking eighth in the American League in runs scored.
Fielder has gone deep just five times this year, and an 0-for-22 stretch has dropped his slugging percentage down to .406. Prince pummeled most anything thrown below the belt in 2011, as his slugging percentage by pitch location shows...
But so far this year, his heat map in Motown is awfully blue in those regions...
Prince actually has a higher slugging percentage against changeups this year than last, but he's not putting those signature uppercut clouts on fastballs or breaking stuff:
|Pitch||2011 Slugging Pct.||2012 Slugging Pct.||MLB Avg.|
Fielder clearly isn't hitting with the same gusto as usual, as his average fly ball distance this season is down to 262 feet from last season's mark of 288 (the big league average is about 268 feet). While Comerica Park isn't as well-suited to Fielder's swing as Miller Park, he should start hitting with authority again soon. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projection system has Prince hitting 25 more homers and slugging .493 from here on out. There's plenty of reason to worry about Fielder's deal in the long run, but it's highly unlikely that his power stroke is already on the wane in 2012.