In late 2013, shortly after the Detroit Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs in the ALCS, they traded Prince Fielder to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler.

It was a huge blockbuster at the time, and analysts immediately started predicting how potent the Rangers lineup would be with Fielder and powerful third baseman Adrian Beltre hitting in the middle of the order.

Beltre was so confident that Fielder would thrive in his new environment that he told the media that Fielder would be the 2014 AL MVP.  It seemed good at the time; Fielder would bat third in the order, meaning he would finally have a chance to be protected in the order as opposed to doing the protecting, as he did with Ryan Braun in Milwaukee and Miguel Cabrera in Detroit.

Unfortunately, Fielder was never able to put it together in his new home park.  Instead of taking advantage of hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, Fielder had a hard time hitting the ball in the air.  His 50.4 percent ground-ball rate, via Fangraphs, was a career high, and he hit only .247 with three home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games before having season-ending neck surgery.

However, 2015 is a new season, and Fielder has drastically changed his personal life in a way that should yield positive results on the diamond.  In a very insightful article by Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, one can see that Fielder is making a genuine effort to have more fun playing baseball as he did when he was mashing home runs at a high rate early in his career.

If he goes back to hitting like the Prince of old, he could easily return to being one of baseball’s premier power hitters.  He averaged more than 36 homers and 111 RBI from 2007-2013, and last year was the first time he played fewer than 157 games.

And this offseason, Fielder got surgery on his neck very similar to the surgery Peyton Manning received during the 2011 NFL season.  It is anybody’s guess if Fielder will return to being his former stellar self, but he has already been cleared to participate in spring training and says he feels great.

He was especially optimistic at the team’s award dinner on January 23.

“I’ll play a pickup game right now, I’m ready to go,” Fielder said, via the Associated Press (h/t  “I’m good, I’m 100 percent, whatever it was before is back.”

So all in all, if he says he is completely healthy, his doctor says he’s healthy and he is transforming his attitude on the field, then that’s good enough for me.

Fangraphs‘ The Steamer predicts Fielder to hit .279 with 23 home runs, 83 RBI and a .847 OPS.  I think those projections are a bit conservative, and if you have a chance to get Fielder in your fantasy draft, I would recommend pulling the trigger.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Fielder hits at least 30 home runs.  The fact that he is changing his attitude toward baseball cannot be overstated, and if he is fully healthy, he should be able to feast on American League pitching all season long.

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