Prince Fielder‘s belly flop near third base in the sixth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS was perfect.
It wasn’t perfect because of what transpired after the slugger’s earth-rumbling tumble, but rather because it summarized his playoff performance better than any words ever could.
Fielder’s baserunning blunder in Game 6 was inexplicable. The Tigers were poised for a big inning after taking a 2-1 lead on Victor Martinez‘s two-run single off the Monster. They had runners at the corners and still nobody out with rookie Brandon Workman toeing the rubber. Fielder, for some strange reason, stopped between third and home on Jhonny Peralta‘s ground ball to second base, and the end result was an inning-altering — and game-altering — double play in which Fielder tripped head over heels as Jarrod Saltalamacchia applied his tag.
It was the latest head-shaking moment on a long list of many when it came to Fielder this postseason. The Tigers first baseman went 4-for-22 in the ALCS, which included a big eighth-inning strikeout in Game 3, and finished the postseason hitting .225 (9-for-40). He had just one extra-base hit and failed to drive in a single run in 11 playoff games.
But Fielder’s postseason disappearing act wasn’t as much about him not producing despite his nine-year, $214 million contract and obvious offensive talent as it was about his overall lethargic approach to being on the cusp of the World Series. It often seemed like Fielder was disinterested, and his comments following Game 6 did nothing to dispel that notion.
“It’s not really tough, man. For me, it’s over,” Fielder said. “I got kids I gotta take care of. I got things to take care of. For me, it’s over, bro.”
Fielder’s response isn’t the worst in the history of responses. At least he’s a family man with priorities, which is more than can be said for a lot of idiots in this world. But still, Fielder’s overall lack of passion leaves much to be desired, especially since he’s supposed to be a franchise cornerstone who other players follow. Could you imagine Dustin Pedroia offering up that type of response?
“You play hard. You give it all you’ve got and then there’s life,” Fielder said. “I got two boys I gotta take care of. I’m not going to sit around and be pouty all day and try to help them become men if I’m over here pouting. It is what it is, bro.”
Again, this isn’t to knock Fielder’s priorities. Family should be his top priority. But it’s tough to accept the whole “don’t bring work home with you” chatter when there was a distinct lifelessness to his game. In other words, it’s one thing to leave your worries at the office. It’s another to show a total lack of enthusiasm before even leaving the office.
Fielder fell flat on his face when the Tigers needed him most. And the beginning of the end happened long before he hit the dirt in the sixth inning of Game 6.
Move over, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. Prince Fielder — a career .194 hitter in the postseason — is creeping up the list of baseball’s worst contracts.
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