As Fielder's long drive to left field cleared the wall in the 8th inning at Target Field on Sunday, he circled the bases with fists pumping at a furious pace. When he arrived at the dugout, there was a genuine fear that he might dislocated some shoulders with the force with which he was delivering his high fives .
Fielder's blast gave the Tigers a 2-1 win over the Twins and in the process reduced his team's magic number to one. It was a jarring blast in an otherwise uninspiring afternoon offensively. The Tigers are now on the brink of making the post season in back to back seasons for the first time since 1934-35. In '34, the Tigers lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. In '35, they won a World Series title, defeating the Chicago Cubs.
It has been a season engulfed by Miguel Cabrera's potential Triple Crown and MVP, but Fielder quietly operates in the background as the other half of the game's top offensive duo. He doesn't seek attention and he is happy to be Cabrera's sidekick. That's fine in most circumstances, but Prince is a superstar himself. Yet, he is quick to point out that he is only here to help the Tigers win.
"This is his team," Fielder said of Cabrera. "I'm here to help him."
There you have it. An offensive force who has hit 30 or more homers in six straight years and plays literally every day, insists that he is not the man in this clubhouse. In some ways however, Fielder deserves equal billing.
Cabrera's storybook season is due to his immense baseball talent. There is no denying that. Still, don't discount Fielder's role. Fielder's presence directly behind Cabrera in the lineup has made opposing managers less likely to pitch around Miggy. Fielder's effect may be impossible to to quantify, but it is real and it exists.
For as much fun as Fielder has playing the game, it is at least equally as fun watching him. Cabrera is about to put the finishing touches on an incredible season, but the guy riding shotgun is pretty good too.