When the Detroit Tigers traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler, I wrote that it should definitely benefit Prince, hitting in a HR friendly park. I also personally didn’t see it doing much damage to Kinsler and depending on where they bat him in the the Depending on where Kinsler hits in Detroit and what else they do in the offseason, it could benefit him, as well. I also said that from a pure baseball point of view, it’s a good trade for both teams. So, I don’t question the deal.
But this is a fantasy site, so keeping true to that, I see one big victim, and that’s Miguel Cabrera. I don’t want to copy-and paste my original post on it, but I do want to show you these numbers again. These span the entire time Miggy’s been in Detroit. The 2008-2011 timeframe is before Prince arrived, the 2012-2013 timeframe is after.
Yes, you can look at the 2008-2011 numbers and say that they’re still very good. That’s absolutely true and I’m certainly not going to suggesting that Miggy will plummet in your fantasy drafts next season, nor should he. But I can tell you this: Writing for this site, we’re obviously doing a lot of prepping months in advance for the offseason, specifically the time around the draft. I know that the big question will be, Who’s No. 1: Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? Mentally, I’ve been preparing arguments for both. Now, it’s going to be awfully hard to argue for Miggy.
We know that Miggy will be nowhere near Trout in steals. But the reason Miggy kept up with his overall availability is that Cabrera blew Trout out of the water in homers and RBI. If I had to guess now, I’d still say that he’ll be better, but the gap will be significantly closed.
For all of Prince’s flaws, he is still one of the game’s most feared hitters. When Miguel Cabrera was coming up in a big RBI spot, he still got pitches to hit because of Prince in the on deck circle?
Who do hitters have to fear now? Kinsler? Victor Martinez? Torii Hunter? I’m certainly not going to say that those aren’t good hitters. I’m also not going to say that whatever man gets the job of protecting Miggy won’t make the opposing team pay for walking him. But none of those players have the power of Prince. It’s not exactly a coincidence that Miggy’s RBI totals went from 105 in 2011, to 139 in 2012.
Now, Detroit can certainly add another power bat, but they won’t find one that strikes the same fear in pitchers that Prince does. Even if by some chance they sign Robinson Cano and find a way to pair him with Ian Kinsler, he’s got nowhere near the kind of presence in the lineup that Prince has, even if he’s actually a better hitter (which he is).
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN points out one other way this hurts Miggy’s fantasy value, although not until next year in standard leagues.
Now, unless your league resets positions in season, Miggy will have 3B eligibility for all of 2014. He’s also still likely the best fantasy 1B, although if Paul Goldschmidt continues to develop and Chris Davis is anywhere near as good in 2014 as he was in 2013, they’ll rival him. Still, while 3B isn’t anywhere near as shallow as it has been in the past, it’s not 1B. Losing Miguel Cabrera will be a big blow to that position.
Now, Nash made a point to me in a text message that I do feel compelled to share.
Yeah. But that’s next year’s worry, man…He’ll have it this year and be playing 1B. So he should be a tad healthier.
That’s not a false statement by any means. Again, it’s worth repeating that moving Cabrera across the diamond will make the Tigers a much better team defensively so I’m not criticizing the trade.
My overall point is that it’s hard to find a way to think that this will make Cabrera a better fantasy player. It will hurt his numbers and a little down the road, will take eligibility away from a thinner position.