Commentary

Who needs Prince Fielder most?

Everyone could use him, but the Rangers have the most to gain from signing the slugger

Updated: December 13, 2011, 1:03 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory
Prince FielderAP Photo/Bill KostrounPrince Fielder has averaged 38 home runs per year in his six full seasons in the majors.

Going into the offseason, the basic plan of the Texas Rangers was simply to do their best to retain the services of free agent C.J. Wilson and continue to reap the benefits from one of the best farm systems in baseball. A simple, straightforward plan for a team that won 186 games and made two World Series appearances in the last two years. A plan now shattered thanks to the offseason bonanza of the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels shocked baseball by not just bringing in one top free agent, but both the top hitter and top pitcher available in the market. Albert Pujols is already essentially an inner-circle Hall of Famer, an aging one but still with plenty in his tank, and Wilson is a starter without a lot of mileage on his arm who would have contended for the AL Cy Young in most years, i.e., one without the 2011 version of Justin Verlander.

Not only did the Angels add a bunch of wins to a team on the cusp of the playoffs, but by signing Wilson, they also got to take wins directly from the Rangers, their main rival in the AL West. Adding four wins to your bottom line is always valuable, but getting to take them directly from your biggest competitor is more than just the cherry on top. The Rangers' replacements for Wilson are better pitchers than the ones Wilson replaces in Anaheim, but it's still an additional loss.

In other words, the Rangers' grip on the division is in trouble, but there is one man who can strengthen it: Prince Fielder. I calculated every team's 2012 playoff odds with and without the slugging free-agent first baseman, and no team stands to gain more from signing him than Texas.