Monday January 16, 2012
Doug Booth- Baseball Writer: I am still astounded when I hear that Prince Fielder has not been signed yet. This man is a powerhouse that would help any ball club. So what is going on? When I thought about this a little more I realized that tall/heavy hitters really have a tough time keeping their productivity up once they are near the second half of their career. It is really not that hard to figure out. A player that is taller also carries a larger strike zone, where the overweight players will only lose any speed they had as their career starts winding down. For this particular article, I choose 4 players to study this exact scenario. Those players are: Richie Sexson, Tony Clark, Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder.
Richie Sexson-(Career .261 306 HR 943 RBI), is one of the tallest players ever at 6’6″. For the first 9 years of his career, this Oregon Native terrorized pitchers and routinely deposited baseball into the bleachers. During those years, the man clubbed 270 HRs and drove in 824 RBIs, power numbers that put him amongst the best in baseball. Despite being quite thin, Richie began having problems in the field and at the plate once he hit the age of 32. In 2007, Richie Sexson only hit .205 and was striking out on the outside pitch at the knees frequently. We are talking about a professional hitter who put together 6- 100 RBI seasons. Within a year, Sexson was out of the league without any takers. It wasn’t a real gradual drop either. At age 31 Richie Sexson hit 34 HRs and 107 RBIs for Seattle, a place where half of his games were played at pitcher friendly Safeco Field.
Tony Clark-(Career .262 252 HR 824 RBI), is 6’8″ and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1990 Amateur Draft. Clark started out his first seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers by hitting .277 with 156 HRs and 514 RBIs. While he was not as potent as Richie Sexson, Clark ended his career with Tigers with a slugging percentage of .502. At age 30, the Boston Red Sox now had Clark as their 1st baseman. However, this was short-lived as he struggled badly. In 2003 and 2004, Clark spent time as injury relief for both of the New York teams. The Mets used Clark when Mo Vaughn retired in 2003, while the Yankees had him play 1st base when Jason Giambi was out for the year with stomach pains in 2004. In both cases Clark responded with 16 HRs, in half of the at-bats of a regular year. Tony Clark played regularly during the next season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting 30 HRs in only 130 games, while also slugging a career best .636. Tony struggled to stay healthy after that year, although he provided some nice pop as a pinch hitter. His career as a regular had been over since he had turned 33.
Mo Vaughn-(Career.293 328 HR’S 1064 RBI), is listed as weighing only 225 pounds at baseball reference.com, but for those that watched him play, knew that was way under the weight Vaughn played at once he left Boston. Vaughn spent his first 8 years with Boston hitting .304 with 230 HRs and 752 RBIs. Vaughn was named the 1995 AL MVP when he hit 44 HRs and drove in 143 RBIs. The man was a beast in his Boston days. After posting 2 decent years with the then ‘California Angels’ hitting 30 HRs and driving in 100+RBIs, Vaughn signed with the New York Mets. Vaughn showed up to camp out of shape (at age 34) and slumped in his first year with the Mets. More health issues came up the next year and a knee injury brought the man to retirement. Those were knee problems that arose very likely from carrying all that extra weight on his frame.
Cecil Fielder-(Career .255 319 HR’S 1008 RBI), is a classic example of what I am talking about. With the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil hit 31 HRs in only 504 ABs. But there was a problem. The Jays featured AL home run king Fred McGriff at that time with John Olerud in the system. So Cecil Fielder was off to play in Japan for a season. Earlier in Cecil’s career, he was much leaner until he joined the Detroit Tigers. In 1990, ‘Big Daddy’ signed with the Detroit Tigers and went on to hit 51 HRs and drove in 132 RBIs. It was the first time a player had hit 50 homers in a year since George Foster did it in 1977. Cecil Fielder led the league in RBI for his first three years with the Tigers, and he also finished with 44 HRs to lead the league in homers for his second year with Detroit. At the age of 32, he was traded to the New York Yankees at the deadline before helping them secure New York’s first championship since 1978. After the following season, the Yanks felt they were better suited to use Darryl Strawberry at DH and Tino Martinez at 1st base, so they let Cecil leave. At age 34 Cecil was big and slow and ended his career after a great 10 year run.
So maybe this is the reason that teams have not signed Prince to a huge 8+ years contract. Based on my research, the most I would give Prince is a 5-year deal. Pay him more annually if you wish, but do not make the mistake as other teams have made in the past. I do not want to add Prince to this list after his career is over.
*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com***
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