Adrian Beltre predicts Prince Fielder will win AL MVP in 2014
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre thinks a newly acquired teammate will lord over the American League this upcoming season.
"He’s going to get the MVP. It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there."
Sure, file under "what do you expect him to say?" if you like, but that's a pretty specific declaration on Beltre's part. To be sure, Fielder is perhaps reinvigorated by the trade, has reportedly dropped a good bit of weight this winter and will be batting regularly in the three hole. All of that plus the skills already in place could indeed yield a big year for the 29-year-old slugger.
On the other hand, Fielder is coming off perhaps the least productive season of his career: 25 homers (a full-season career low), 120 OPS+ (career OPS+ of 144 coming into 2013) and some troubling trends in terms of plate discipline and raw power indicators.
With that said, rarely is anything in baseball perfectly linear in its journey, so a bounceback for a hitter like Fielder, who has indeed performed at an MVP-caliber level in the recent past, is certainly plausible.
(Wink of CBS eye: BBTF)