Commentary

Prince Fielder ready for next chapter

After lack of postseason success with Tigers, Fielder happy to be joining Rangers

Updated: November 30, 2013, 10:33 AM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

In Detroit, where Prince Fielder spent the last two seasons after signing a nine-year, $214 million deal, we're told one reason he was dealt to Texas for Ian Kinsler is that he struggled at the plate, in part, because of personal reasons.

Fielder filed for divorce from his wife Chanel in May. Did that affect his play last season? We don't know, because Fielder hasn't talked publicly about it.

[+] EnlargePrince Fielder
AP Photo/Richard RodriguezIn 11 playoff games in 2013, Prince Fielder did not have a homer or an RBI. In 2012, he had just one HR and three RBIs in 13 playoff games.

But after Fielder had his introductory Rangers news conference Monday -- posing in his new uniform number, No. 84 -- with his two young sons, he beckoned Chanel to the dais and introduced her over a symphony of clicking camera shutters.

Later, Fielder tweeted a picture of the four of them -- each smiling broadly -- in front of his new locker in the Rangers' clubhouse.

Maybe the move to Texas is the start of several new chapters.

In his final season with Detroit, Fielder hit .279 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs. He can do better. We all know it. We've all seen it. It's the reason he's a five-time All-Star.

In his first eight full big-league seasons, Fielder had never hit fewer than 28 homers. Last year, he broke a streak of six consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers.

He's had at least 100 RBIs in all but two of the last eight seasons.

So feel free to be shocked if he doesn't hit 30 homers and drive in 110 runs next season after taking advantage of the right-field porch and its jet stream on a regular basis, while hitting in front of Adrian Beltre.

Washington said he's going to give Fielder a chance to have some protection behind him, something he's never had. After all, Fielder has protected the Most Valuable Player in each of the last three seasons -- Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in 2011 and Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013.

That's Washington doing what he does best: putting guys in position to feel good about themselves so they perform at their best. It's why he used to let Josh Hamilton regularly come to his office, recline on a sofa and discuss scriptures before games.

Fielder will enjoy playing for Washington, who will be more than happy to write his name in the lineup every day. For a guy who reportedly didn't have a lot of passion for the game, Fielder has played in at least 157 games each of the last eight seasons.

He's missed just one game in the last five seasons.

When you sign a player to the huge contract Fielder received, you expect the player to deliver in the postseason.

Fielder didn't.

In 11 playoff games in 2013, Fielder did not have a home run or an RBI. In 13 playoff games in 2012, when Detroit lost in the World Series, he had just one homer and three RBIs.

He was criticized after the playoffs ended in Detroit this year for not showing enough disappointment after the Tigers' loss to Boston. Instead, he talked about moving on and spending time with his family.

"I think it was unfair," he said of people portraying him as not caring enough about losing, "because if I had said some things, I would've been a crybaby. Either way I was kind of screwed."

Fielder has the fresh start he wanted, which is why he agreed to the trade.

He seems happy.

If it stays that way, Fielder will make Rangers fans happy all season.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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