2014 was a complete disappointment for Prince Fielder. Prior to 2014, Fielder played in at least 157 games each season from 2006-2013. He hadn’t missed a single game from 2011-2013, so durability was never a question with Fielder. Sure, he had a rough start to 2014, only hitting 2 HR through April, but he was only able to accumulate 150 AB’s which doesn’t come close to being able to predict his season numbers. In 2010, he only had 2 HR through April, and finished with 32 HR. In 2012, he only had 3 HR through April, and finished the season with 30. So, I’m not going to use his slow start in 2014 against him, especially considering the fact that he had a herniated disk in his neck that caused him to roll over on the ball instead of lifting it with power.
I could talk about Fielder’s stats from previous years all day, but they don’t really matter anymore. Following his neck surgery, we have no idea what kind of player Fielder will be. He could come back and be a top five first baseman again, or he could lose all of his power and be looking at the tail end of his career. It’s not a typical baseball injury, so there’s not much to go on in terms of speculating what to expect the following season. His neck surgery has been compared to the surgery undergone by Ryan Kalish, when he was with the Red Sox, but Kalish isn’t remotely close to the type of player Fielder is, so we can’t speculate much from that. The other player is Peyton Manning, but oh yeah, he plays football, so make of that what you like.
Fielder claims to be at 100 percent right now, and if he truly is, what a steal he would be. Fielder has drastically fallen in the rankings, so if you’re willing to wait on a first baseman, Fielder is a guy you can grab in the middle rounds with the upside of being a top 5 first baseman. It's a risk I'd be willing to take. If you target Fielder as your starting first baseman entering 2015, I would advise you to grab another first baseman that you are happy with to handcuff Fielder in case he isn’t able to produce.