What To Expect From Prince Fielder?

The opinions range far and wide on what the Brewers should do with Prince Fielder, and with good reason. His positives are extremely positive, while the red flags are positively scarlet.

Let's start with the basics. Fielder is signed for $10.5MM in 2010, with the Brewers controlling his rights through 2011. Assuming he continues to hit like Prince Fielder, that means 2011 will likely be even more expensive than 2010 for the Brewers.

Fielder is having a tremendous 2009 season. He turned 25 in May, and has posted a line of .298/.410/.588 in 636 plate appearances entering Wednesday. By any standard, he is an elite offensive player.

But the concern most people have with Fielder is his size. Fielder is quite, shall we say, Rubenesque, and the worry is how such a player will both age and continue to play first base.

On the fielding side, the evidence we have is a bit surprising. Fielder's UZR actually improved significantly in 2009. After posting a -8.8 runs and -8.5 runs in 2007 and 2008, respectively, Fielder is at -0.7 in 2009- a stone's throw from average.

And should the Brewers decide to rip up his current deal and sign him long-term this winter, the contract would begin with his age-26 season. To get a sense of how someone with Fielder's body type will age, one need look no further than his father, Cecil. The elder Fielder, of course, returned from Japan for his age-26 season, and shocked the baseball world with 51 home runs. He hit 258 home runs over his age 26-32 seasons, playing primarily first base, not designated hitter.

In other words, if Prince is anything like his father, that's a lot of offense to give up, no matter how badly the Brewers need starting pitching.

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