One thing Miguel Cabrera won’t miss about Prince Fielder: protection

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Upon hearing the news that the Tigers had traded Prince Fielder to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera appeared to be mourning a bit on Twitter, posting a collection of pictures involving the two during their time in Detroit. It was a humanizing moment for a player who has given us no choice over the last two years but to think of him as an unstoppable hitting machine.

Many, particularly those in the national baseball media, wonder how Cabrera will fare without Fielder behind him to protect him.

But as David Schoenfield illustrates in his column at ESPN Sweet Spot, there just isn’t any evidence that Fielder actually provided any lineup protection to Cabrera. He notes that Cabrera hasn’t seen many more fastballs nor many more pitches in the strike zone, at least at a statistically significant level. Additionally, while Victor Martinez may not have Fielder’s power potential, he is no slouch.

The same idea pops up whenever two great hitters either come together or go their separate ways. I dug into the numbers back in September 2011 to see if Hunter Pence was actually providing Ryan Howard with any protection for the Phillies. Like Schoenfield, there just wasn’t any evidence.

Based on the numbers we’ve been able to compile over the years, lineup protection either doesn’t exist or the effect is so small as to be indistinguishable from random variation.

Jean Segura hits a three-run homer to put the AL up 5-2 in the eighth

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As we moved to the top of the eighth inning things started to loosen up. Which was good for the American League but not for the Senior Circuit.

Josh Hader of the Brewers was pitching and, in very un-2018-style, the American League strung together a couple of hits, with Shin-Soo Choo and George Springer singling. At that point Jen Segura of the Mariners came to the plate while Joe Buck spoke to National League outfielder Charlie Blackmon on the mic. Blackmon was entertaining until Joey Votto failed to corral a would-be foul out from Segura, at which point he tensed up a bit. Then Segura launched a massive three-run homer to left. Blackmon called Buck “bad luck,” Mitch Moreland singled and Blackmon said that if the next pitch wasn’t a double play ball, he was bailing on the broadcast.

With the Americans leading 5-2, Dave Roberts made a pitching change, bringing in Brad Hand with one out in the inning. Buck bid adieu to Blackmon, for which Blackmon seemed thankful. These mic’d up players are fun, but there’s a limit to how much distraction they’ll endure, even in a meaningless exhibition game.

Hand struck out Michael Brantley and then