Detroit Tigers Sign Prince Fielder; Will He Hold Up Better Than Cecil?

The Detroit Tigers are reportedly close to signing Prince Fielder to a 9-year, $214 million contract. Friend of the site Ken Rosenthal has a breakdown of the deal here, which he calls a “classic Boras shocker” on Twitter.

I’ll leave all of the nitty-gritty details to the pros like Rosenthal. For my commentary on this deal, I am going to put on my White Sox hat and do whatever I can to rain on the Tigers’ parade. Why? Because I’m still bitter about last season and not all that optimistic about this season (yet) and because ADAM DUNN WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SUCK SO MUCH DEAR GOD WHY?

prince-fielder-tigersAnyway, I just want to present a few of facts that Tigers fans may be familiar with.

Fact #1: Prince Fielder is the son of Cecil Fielder. This makes it highly probably that they share genetic code and hereditary predispositions.

Fact #2: Cecil Fielder played for the Detroit Tigers from age 26-31, becoming a lovable star because of his girth and behemoth home runs.

Fact #3: At age 26, his first full season in the majors, Cecil Fielder hit 51 home runs and slugged .592; at age 26, Prince Fielder, in his fifth full season in the majors, hit 32 home runs and slugged .471.

Fact #4: At age 27, Cecil Fielder hit 44 home runs and slugged .514; at age 27, Prince Fielder hit 38 home runs and slugged .566.

Fact #5: Cecil Fielder never slugged higher than .504 or hit 40 home runs again despite his salary increasing to nearly $10 million by his age 33 season. He retired at age 34.

Fact #6: Prince Fielder will still be under contract for two full seasons at a massive salary after turning 34.

Fact #7: From ages 23-25, Prince Fielder averaged 43.3 home runs, 121 RBIs, and had OPS’ of 1.013, .879, and 1.104; from ages 26-27, prime years for most players, Fielder averaged 35 home runs, 101.5 RBIs, and had OPS’ of .871 and .981.

A few observations about these facts:

  • Cecil Fielder was never better than during his first two full seasons before declining sharply after that; he was still a useful player, but nowhere near the presence he had been.
  • Prince Fielder was never better than during his first three full seasons (two great years with just a good year sandwiched in between) and is already declining statistically at the age his papa was putting up his best numbers.

The elder Fielder was paid $9.237 million each of his final two seasons in Detroit, an exorbitant sum at the time. He hit 59 home runs and drove in 172 runs total over those two seasons. Prince Fielder will be paid $20+ million dollars during every season of his deal with the Tigers. For their sake, let’s hope they get a better return than they got on the money they paid his father.

Otherwise, if Prince declines and becomes injury-prone, as many extremely heavyset power hitters have (Cecil, Mo Vaughn, even Frank Thomas, just to name a few), this deal could quickly become an albatross for the Tigers.

With Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and a decent roster around them, the Tigers have a window to win over the next couple of years. If Fielder replacing the injured Victor Martinez helps power them to a World Series over the next few years, I suppose this deal will probably be worth it.

But I can’t help but think that at some point – probably when Fielder is hitting 25-30 home runs per season and making semi-regular DL stints, which will probably happen not too long after he turns 30, if not before  – the Tigers and their fans will be looking back on this deal with regret.

Of course, I’m just an angry, disillusioned, pessimistic White Sox fan still burdened mentally and emotionally by the Dunn Fiasco (and the Peavy Problem and the Rios Mess and blah blah blah)…so what the hell do I know?

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. EricinDetroit says:

    Fact#…uhhh…I lost count: Cecil didn't have the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez batting around him
    Fact#….uhhh…I lost count +1: Cecil wasn't just big – he was a drunk and a glutton. Prince has taken much better care of his body. He's missed only a handful of games the past several years.
    Fact#…forget about it: The Detroit Tigers will own the AL Central for the next several years.

    • You make fair points. However, Victor Martinez will not be batting around Prince. He's out for the year and now there is nowhere for him to play. But yet, having Miguel Cabrera will certainly help him. And you're right about Prince taking better care of himself. I hope that helps him to slow the effects of the combination that aging and his size have had on others. I'm merely looking at the history of big sluggers, and very few are able to maintain their production as they get to 28, 29, and especially older.

      Yes, the Tigers should own the AL Central for the next several years, and if they win a World Series during that time, perhaps the crazy dollars are worth it. But I think there are better ways to spend $214 million than on a player with Prince's profile and comparables.

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