Prince Fielder’s Game-Changing Hot Streak

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Prince Fielder hit his 8th home run in the Brewers’ past 10 games on Sunday, helping Milwaukee finish off a sweep of the Cardinals and take control of the NL Central. The most impressive part of Fielder’s hot streak was pointed out by Adam McCalvy during the game — of those 8 home runs, 7 gave the Brewers the lead, and the other tied the game.

It’s a little early for MVP talk, but over the past 10 games, there probably hasn’t been a more valuable player in the league. In fact, if you go by WPA (Win Probability Added), there hasn’t been a more valuable player in the NL so far. Coming into Sunday’s game:

1. Prince Fielder (MIL), 4.06
2. Joey Votto (CIN), 3.61
3. Matt Kemp (LAD), 3.05
4. Lance Berkman (STL), 2.56
5. Hunter Pence (HOU), 2.40

For those who are unfamiliar, check out FanGraphs’ quick primer on WPA. If you look at Fielder’s go-ahead home run in the 6th inning on Sunday, it improved the Brewers’ odds of winning from 46.6% to 73.7% — a jump of 27.1%, or a WPA of .271 on that play alone. You can probably follow the logic from there: a WPA of 1.0 is equal to a full (100%) win, so to this point, Prince has been good for about 4 wins in WPA terms. His performance on Sunday pushed his season total to 4.278 — WPA is cumulative, but that’s already double his total from last season.

A surprising amount of that season WPA has come over the past 10 games, with the flurry of game-changing home runs — since June 3, he’s sporting a WPA of 1.553. Yes, he’s added the equivalent of over 1.5 wins during that stretch. That’s about 36% of his season total. That’s insane. I honestly can’t remember a stretch like this, and if anyone could dig up something similar, it’d be appreciated.

Fielder won’t stay this hot forever, but it is happening at a very good time for the Brewers — and a very good time for him, as the team gets ready to face some high-profile opponents. Let’s just take this opportunity to remind ourselves how silly all the “not clutch” talk was last season as he ran into some bad luck.

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