Fielder sets Brewers' RBI mark
He was denied in the first inning on Saturday and again in the seventh, but not in the eighth, when Fielder lifted a sacrifice fly off Astros closer Jose Valverde to break Cecil Cooper’s 26-year-old franchise record for RBIs. Cooper drove in 126 runs in 1983; Fielder drove in No. 127 with 14 games left to play.
“It’s about time,” said Fielder, who had been tied with Cooper since Sunday, six days earlier. “I’ve had so many opportunities over the past week and I haven’t been able to get the job done. I finally was able to come through.”
Fielder’s RBI put the finishing touches on the Brewers’ 7-2 win over the Astros and snapped his five-game drought without an RBI. It was his longest spell all season, and he’s started all 148 of Milwaukee’s games.
Cooper had a front-row seat for the record-breaking RBI. He’s now the Astros’ manager.
“It’s a cool achievement, just to be lumped with a guy like ‘Coop,’” Fielder said. “He’s a great player, and this organization has had a lot of great players.”
Said Cooper: “My congratulations to him on it, but I’m thinking more about wins and losses right now.”
Fielder nearly broke the record an inning earlier, when he singled up the middle with runners at first and second base. But Jody Gerut got a late break from second and was held by third base coach Brad Fischer. When Fielder saw the stop sign go up, he hopped near first base in frustration.
An inning later, he broke through. Felipe Lopez held at third on Ryan Braun’s single despite Fischer waving him home, and Fielder followed with a long fly ball to center field. After Lopez scored, Fielder answered a curtain call from the fans in the stands.
When you consider that Fielder entered the day batting .299 with 39 home runs, the slugging first baseman is having one of the finest seasons in franchise history. Fielder entered the night with an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.003, and only twice has a Brewer logged enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title and finished a season with an OPS above 1.000.
Fielder did it in 2007, when he set a franchise record with 50 home runs and finished with an OPS of 1.013, good for third in National League MVP balloting. Paul Molitor posted a 1.003 OPS in 1987, when he finished second in the American League with a career-best .353 batting average and led the league with 41 doubles. Molitor ran fifth in the American League MVP race that year.
Cooper’s 1983 season must also be on the list. He tied Boston’s Jim Rice that year for the AL RBI crown while batting .307 with 30 home runs and 37 doubles. It was an especially-remarkable season considering that Cooper essentially matched his numbers from a fabulous 1982, when he hit .312 with 30 homers, 38 doubles and 121 RBIs.