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.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.