Prince Fielder has dropped weight; Adrian Beltre predicts he’ll win the MVP

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It’s premature to call this a Best Shape of His Life report — we need a bit more — but be it known that Prince Fielder is officially on BSOHL watch:

He has dropped weight. He has dumped the dreadlocks in favor of a high-and-tight haircut. He will move into the featured No. 3 spot in the Rangers’ order.

“He’s going to get the MVP,” Adrian Beltre said Friday night during the club’s awards gathering at the Gaylord Texan. “It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there.”

That report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning news. A photo of his high-and-tight haircut is there too. It’s shorter than it was even for his introduction as a Ranger a couple of months ago. It’s hard to tell whether he’s really dropped a lot of weight given the angle of the shot and the fact that he’s wearing a suit. Everyone looks good in a well-made suit.

The more interesting thing about the article is that it spends most of its time talking about the concept of lineup protection. The protection he was said to give Ryan Braun and then Miguel Cabrera as he hit cleanup for most of his career. And how, now, he’s going to hit third and how that is going to do him wonders.

I find this all fairly questionable and, ultimately, unverifiable. Most studies of the concept either debunk or diminish the concept of lineup protection. Braun and Cabrera are great hitters so they’d hit anyway and the evidence that they hit better because of Fielder’s presence skews heavily anecdotal/assertive. People say he provided protection, ergo he does.

And, sure, maybe Fielder will have an MVP-season in Texas this year. If he does I’m sure a lot of people will attribute it to him moving up to the three-slot. I’m also sure those who do will diminish the impact of moving to a ballpark that is far better tailored to his swing than Comerica Park was.

Oh well. Offseason talk.

Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell leaves BP session with possible injury

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This is not good: Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell cut short a bullpen session this morning and left the field with a trainer. Topkin says Honeywell was “clearly upset” as he made his way into the clubhouse and “cursed loudly a few times.”

Obviously you don’t want to assume the worst, but that’s often the behavior of a pitcher who experienced a serious injury. We will get updates later and will provide an update when we hear.

UPDATE:

Honeywell, probably the Rays’ top prospect, is slated to make his major league debut early this season, though possibly not for a few weeks into the season due to off days. Eventually, though, it is assumed he’d slot in someplace behind Chris Archer, Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Faria, and Blake Snell, either as a young-David Price-style swingman, a spot starter or a regular starter at some point.

Last year Honeywell posted a 3.49 ERA and 172/35 K/BB ratio in 136. innings in 26 starts between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.