In the last three seasons, Prince Fielder served as the lineup muscle that protected a Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun with Milwaukee and Miguel Cabrera in Detroit the last two years. As the cleanup hitter, Fielder bullied teams into pitching to the MVP.

New team, new look for Fielder.

He has dropped weight. He has dumped the dreadlocks in favor of a high-and-tight haircut. He will move into the featured No. 3 spot in the Rangers’ order.

“He’s going to get the MVP,” Adrian Beltre said Friday night during the club’s awards gathering at the Gaylord Texan. “It’s his time to win it. My job is to protect him so that he gets there.”

In the first significant decision of the coming season, Rangers manager Ron Washington has said he will go with Fielder as the No. 3 hitter, with Beltre in the cleanup spot. It is a major move toward rebuilding an offense that dropped from an American League-high 808 runs in 2012 to 730 last year, the club’s fewest for a full season since 1992.

Hitting cleanup is a familiar duty for Beltre but a radical change for Fielder.

In two seasons with Detroit, Fielder had only 11 at-bats as the No. 3 hitter. His last extended run hitting third came in 2007 with Milwaukee. When Braun reached the majors during that season, Fielder dropped to cleanup and finished with 50 homers.

Fielder has been an ideal cleanup hitter. Since 2007, he leads the majors in homers from the No. 4 spot with 230 and ranks second in RBIs with 711. Despite the success, Fielder has no reservations about the switch.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding,” Fielder said. “I like it a lot. Definitely not upset about it.

“Anytime you get to hit in front of a guy like that, it’s not going to hurt.”

The Rangers used six hitters in the third spot last season. The Rangers were eighth or worst in the American League for average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and homers from their No. 3 hitters.

That blunted the impact of Beltre, who missed only two games despite his familiar leg miseries. Beltre had his third consecutive season of 30-plus homers but did not drive in 100 runs for the first time since 2009.

Fielder can slug, but he will take a walk. So will new leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo. That should create more opportunities for Beltre.

“The guys we’ve added are going to be good for us,” Beltre said. “Hopefully, they can stay healthy and help us to do what we want to do.”

This puts a burden on Fielder to rally from last year’s subpar performance with Detroit, which sent him to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Fielder stopped pulling the ball in the air and had career lows in homers with 25 and slugging percentage at .457.

If Fielder is motivated by that showing and the Tigers’ move, he did not show it in his first public appearance with the Rangers. Life is good, he insisted.

But what about the new hair style?

“My wife likes it short, so I’m going to go short for a while,” Fielder said.

And the apparent weight loss?

“Nothing big,” Fielder said. “Trying to eat less.”