In the past week, the baseball world has seen three players announce their retirement. At one time, all were prominent sluggers in the MLB. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira held a press conference last Friday during which he stated that he’d be hanging up his cleats for good at the end of this season. Two days later, his teammate Alex Rodriguez had a press conference with the team in which he stated that his final game with the Yankees would be at the end of the week. After tonight’s game, the Yankees will release him. On Tuesday, Texas Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Prince Fielder became the latest player to announce his retirement.
Fielder, 32, is a little younger than Teixeira and Rodriguez. In his prime, he was one of the most dangerous power hitters in all of baseball. He was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the seventh overall pick of the 2002 MLB Draft. During his rookie season in 2006, he batted .271 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs. The next season, he hit .288 and had 50 homers and 119 RBIs. That year, he finished third in the NL MVP voting.
It was at this point in his career that Fielder was starting to make a name for himself. In 2009, he hit 46 homers and drove in an NL-best 141 runs. He had a few more good seasons in Milwaukee, including 2011. He batted .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs that year, again finishing third in the NL MVP voting. He also helped carry the Brewers to the NLCS, but they lost the series in six games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Following his stellar 2011 season, Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. His first season in Detroit was a successful one, as he played in all 162 games and hit a career-high .313 with 30 home runs and 108 RBIs. He also played in his first World Series that year, but the Tigers were swept by the San Francisco Giants. Fielder had another solid offensive season in 2013, hitting 25 homers and knocking in 106 runs.
In November of 2013, the Tigers traded Fielder to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler and $30 million. His first season with the Rangers was certainly one to forget. After playing in 42 games, he needed to have season-ending neck surgery. At the time, Fielder had started 547 straight games. Before the surgery, he was hitting .247 and had only three home runs.
Unfortunately, the neck issue did not go away permanently. Although Fielder was able to have a strong comeback season in 2015, batting .305 with 23 home runs and 98 RBIs while being named to the AL All-Star Team, it was not exactly a sign of good things to come. Fielder made 88 starts this season before he went down with another neck injury last month. After electing to have surgery to repair the herniation of disks in his neck, he decided that his career was over.
The Rangers held a news conference on Wednesday to officially announce the news. With a neck brace on, Fielder told reporters that doctors said that he could no longer play baseball. It’s a sad ending to a good career. Overall, he was a six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Fielder finished his career with 319 home runs and 1,028 RBIs. Ironically, Prince’s father Cecil Fielder also hit exactly 319 home runs in his MLB career. Cecil finished with 1,008 RBIs, 20 less than his son.
It’s unfortunate that Prince Fielder’s career had to end early. He was such a feared slugger for so many years. A reoccurring neck injury held him back in the end however. Enjoy retirement, Prince.