As the Detroit Tigers continue to struggle, many fans are asking for change. One of the first things on their list, get Prince Fielder off of first base. Prince has been pretty bad at the position, as he has already committed a team high six errors. A lot of which have come in big moments. Most recently, he made a throwing error while trying to cut down a runner at home in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The error allowed the winning run to come home.
Prince’s bat has not been as good as expected so far, but it has not been awful by any stretch. He has 7 home runs and 25 RBI, second on the team in both categories, only behind Miguel Cabrera. So if his bat is not really the problem and his defense is horrible, why not just move him to DH? Well, there are several reasons as to why the Tigers cannot and will not do so.
First off, Prince Fielder is in his prime. It has been well documented that big league players, especially future Hall of Famers like Fielder, simply do not like DH’ing. They want to go out in the field and forget about a tough at bat, not have the next 3 innings or so to over analyze it and let it bother them. Also, the Tigers did not pay $214 million for a DH. They just can’t afford that, no team can. Prince is going to have to play first baseman if not for any other reason than that. And I can guarantee you that an All-Star in his prime will have zero interest in a full time DH position.
With that being said, who would play third base? Don Kelly? No one is going to want to see him in the everyday lineup. Kelly is a great utility player, but he is not going to be able to produce every single day. It just will not happen. Third base is a prime position on the diamond, it is a position of power and production. The Tigers need to get results from that position, and with Miguel Cabrera at third, the Tigers will. That brings up the next point. If you move Fielder to DH, Cabrera will be moving back to first. Not only does that illustrate the fact that your plan has failed, but what kind of message does that send to Fielder? You are telling your Hall of Famer that he is not good enough. Regardless if that is true or not, you just can’t send a message like that to a guy that you are going to need for the next nine years. But better yet, what message will you be sending to Cabrera? The guy unselfishly moved positions, lost a lot of weight, and worked rigorously to be able to play third base. He did so after already more than establishing himself at first. Cabrera is already a superstar, most superstars will not move for another similar talent to take their position. Yet he did it anyway, and now you are telling him that he needs to move back? After all the sacrifices and hard work he put in, that just is not right.
The Tigers are an absolute mess right now. They have been awful for the most part, all year long. However, they are not going to improve by changing just for the sake of change. Making a change like this will be the nail in the coffin, it would not work, it would only make them worse. The Tigers are just going to have the ride this stretch out. They are who they are, it will have to be good enough. It should be good enough, they are by far the most talented team in the American League Central Division. There are no excuses. As manager Jim Leyland said earlier in the year, “We are a good team, but you have to prove that by going out and winning games.”