Tigers - signed Fielder
Detroit Tigers sign 1B Prince Fielder to a 9 year/$214 million contract.
A fascinating signing on so many levels. First of all, a week ago serious people were seriously discussing the possibility that Fielder might end up in Japan, or have to settle for a short term contract—possibly as little as a year. It’s fairly clear that there was an element of luck (color me doubtful that the Tigers were sold on this signing before the Martinez signing), but again Boros gets his man the money and years he was after.
Second, for the next three years there’s going to be a potentially awkward talent clump. Sure, Victor Martinez is out for at least the best part of the year and the Tigers are currently planning on playing Miguel Cabrera at third in any case. I think it’s realistic to expect Cabrera to play third very badly. It’s been a few years since he played there and he wasn’t very good then. Don’t get me wrong, Cabrera and a caddy means that the position is very likely in better hands than it was last year when the Tigers had the choice of decent hitter/bad fielder or good field, no hit. Still, it’s going to be a challenge over the next 3 years to deal with 3 guys who realistically are no great shakes at first base. Harder than it was in the 60s and 70s when stuffing an extra bat at third was common. The size of today’s pitching staffs makes it harder to use players with great flaws (no matter their overall strengths)
Third, 9 years? I can’t pretend to know how well he’ll age, but there are some obvious causes for concern. There’s his sheer size. I have to say I wouldn’t be directly fearful. We’re conditioned to equate fat with being lazy and undisciplined. I see no evidence that this is true in Fielder’s case. He’s been durable and there are good reports of his work ethic. I’d be very worried if he actually had a history of knee problems but he doesn’t. Still, I find it interesting that Greg Luzinski, Kent Hrbek and Boog Powell show up in Prince’s age comp list. None of them aged all that well. But Harmon Killebrew and Babe Ruth most certainly played very well from age 28 to 36. I’m skeptical of the studies done using BMI—they’re using listed weights and are often good for a laugh (go ahead, look up David Wells on baseball-reference) so I’d suggest nothing more than a minor reservation on the size front.
Then there’s the type of talent. Fielder has what’s called old player skills. Most of his value lies in his strike zone judgment and his ability to hit home runs. Many players of this nature simply don’t age well. They’re already optimized and have little room for style adjustments as they age. But again see Killebrew. When all is said and done I see no reason to be really wary on the style front.
Then there’s the simple fact that that better players tend to age well. ZiPS projects another 1503 games for him with an eventual career OPS+ of 133. If that’s the way things work out, I think the Tigers will be slightly disappointed over the life of the contract, but it certainly won’t be any kind of disaster.
Posted: January 26, 2012 at 06:46 PM | 26 comment(s)
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