The Texas Rangers, relegated to runner-up status in the American League West the last two seasons by the Oakland A’s, fired the first big cannon of the offseason on Wednesday night when they acquired slugging first baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers for second baseman Ian Kinsler.
What does that do to the balance of power in the division?
Fielder is coming off his worst season in the majors, hitting just .279/.362/.457 for Detroit with a career-low 25 homers and 106 RBI. He was in the second year of a massive nine-year, $214 million contract he signed with the Tigers in January 2012. Detroit will pay $6 million a year of Fielder’s $24 million salary in 2016-20 as part of the trade.
The A’s have seen Fielder in each of the last two postseasons, as they were eliminated by Detroit in five-game American League Division Series in both 2012 and 2013. But Fielder didn’t produce much in either series. In 2012, he was 4-for-21 with a homer and two RBI and this October, he was 5-for-18, but didn’t drive in a run or register an extra-base hit.
He led the National League in home runs in 2007 with the Milwaukee Brewers when he slugged 50 and was the NL RBI king in 2009 with 141 for the Brewers.
His power numbers dropped with the move to the more spacious Comerica Park. After averaging 38 homers a year in six full seasons in Milwaukee, he hit just 55 in two years with the Tigers.
It seems a natural, then, that a move to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will improve Fielder’s numbers, but the statistics tell a different tale. Comerica Park had a park factor of 108 last season, according to baseball-reference.com. Rangers Ballpark checked in at 102. Anything more than 100 favors hitters.
Fielder has played only seven regular-season games at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, where he is 7-for-29 with two homers and six RBI. In 13 game at Rangers Ballpark, Fielder hit .265/.373/.592 in 59 plate appearances with four homers and 15 RBI.
So maybe he’ll like Texas better, after all.
Kinsler was limited to 136 games by injuries in 2013 and hit .277/.344/.413 with 13 homers and 72 RBI. In his career against the A’s, he has hit .268/.346/.379 in 524 plate appearances with 80 runs, 27 doubles, eight homers, 46 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
In 56 career games at O.co Coliseum, Kinsler hit just .201/.264/.290 in 249 plate appearances with 30 runs, 11 doubles, three homers, 17 RBI and seven steals.
Kinsler is likely thrilled to not have to visit Oakland nine or 10 times a year. On the other hand, he’s only a .200 lifetime hitter in 36 games at Comerica Park. So there’s that.
How will the A’s counter this move by Texas? Will the A’s counter this move by Texas? The ball would appear to be in Billy Beane’s court after a splashy opening volley to the offseason by Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.