In 2007, Prince Fielder hit 50 HR and was considered one of the top sluggers in the game. Heading into the 2008 season, Fielder had an ADP of 11. However, those who took Fielder that high suffered through a rough beginning of the season. Through May 29th, he had just six home runs and 25 RBIs in 194 at-bats. For the rest of the season he had 28 HR and 77 RBIs in 394 at-bats.
For the season, Fielder had a $17.23 dollar value according to the RotoTimes Player Rater and finished outside of the top-40 fantasy hitters. This year, fantasy owners are splitting the difference between 2007 and 2008, giving Fielder an ADP of 26 according to the latest update over at Mock Draft Central.
Much was made last year about Fielder becoming a vegetarian. Many people blamed the slow start on his dietary decision. But slumps happen. Fielder’s poor stretch simply happened at the beginning of the season and was more noticeable.
But much like Carlos Delgado, Fielder had two poor months and four good months last year. And the four good months were the final four of the season. Now, we don’t get to pick the months that we want to count from a player’s stat line. The season is six months long and each month counts the same.
However, when projecting players into the future, one should take into account as much information as possible. We know that Fielder hit 50 HR in 2007. We know that his final four months of the season he was on a pace for 42 HR. In the past two years, there is much more evidence that Fielder is a 40+ HR player than there is that he is a <35 HR player.
One could easily counter that if we are going to look at all of the information, we should include 2006, when Fielder hit 28 HR in 569 at-bats as a 22-year old. And I won’t quibble with that one bit. It is my belief that we should put more weight on the more-recent performance, especially given his age.
If you are comfortable projecting Fielder as a 40-HR guy, that makes him a top-20 hitter, assuming he can keep his average in the .275-.280 range. Three of the four projection systems show Fielder clearing the .280 mark this season.
Fielder may be slightly undervalued by the mock drafting crowd. The mockers prefer Justin Morneau, who on average is going six slots ahead of Fielder. Morneau provided much more value in 2008, but I would prefer Fielder’s power over Morneau’s RBI bat this season.