Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera will make a combined $44 million dollars this season, more than the rest of the projected starting lineup combined. In fact, Fielder’s $23 million or Cabrera’s $21 million alone is more than everyone else combined.
The only other player on the roster that stands to make anywhere near what Fielder and Cabrera make is the Tigers ace Justin Verlander. His handsome raise this year will have him netting $20 million in 2012. A $7 million-plus payoff raise for the sweet deal he parlayed for the Tigers a few year back to keep them under management's self-imposed salary cap.
There is a lot riding on the investment the Tigers have made in Fielder and Cabrera—an immediate expectation for All-Star numbers and high offensive production.
Both will be afforded some room for error defensively as long as they post the type of offensive numbers that put fans in the seats and big numbers on the scoreboard. Long-range dramatic home runs and three-figure RBI totals will bring plenty of fans out to the ball park this summer.
Here are several bold predictions, some perhaps even historic, for the Fielder-Cabrera tandem in 2012.
No better place to start than the type of hits that make highlight reels—long shot dingers. Let the hype begin about the type of panoramic home runs Fielder will make regular habit in his new home at Comerica Park.
Fielder will make lunch out of Comerica’s 330-foot right field line, and the 379-foot left-center gap won’t provide much of a challenge for the rainbow-type home runs he hits.
Just ahead of Fielder will be plenty of the laser shots Cabrera smashes out of the park. Cabrera hits rockets that clear the fence on the hustle, not so much the towering flares Fielder shoots off the bat.
Combined they will mow down plenty of the American League’s best.
Bold, how’s this for bold? Triple-digit combined home runs. Bam! Both are bookended by hitters that could protect them all season long which will force pitchers to throw strikes. Many of which will find a home in the outfield seating area.
Combined Home Runs: 100
*Fielder 56 / Cabrera 44
Positive and negative, unfortunately the Fielder-Cabrera duo creates a few of the latter even with the heavily tipped scale in favor of the former.
Both actually carry identical career fielding percentages at first base (.992). A respectable number among league peers, neither having committed more than 17 errors in a season.
Cabrera will undoubtedly commit more errors this season than he has ever before in a Tigers uniform and yet he will also be more than serviceable at third base. He should make the routine plays regularly and throw in something special every now and then, too.
However, from time to time the defensive demons will come calling, at some point it will cost the Tigers a victory. It may cost them a few, but the offensive firepower they provide will far outweigh any damage of poor defensive play.
Fielder will be fine, Cabrera may struggle from time to time, long-term the switch will pay off for the team and that's what should matter the most.
Combined Errors: 46
*Cabrera 30 / Fielder 16
The American RBI battle might take place as a two man show right here in Motown. A combined career stat of 1640 in the RBI category for the Fielder-Cabrera duo is impressive, considering both have 162 game averages above 100 RBI per season.
Cabrera led the American League in 2010 with 126 RBI and Fielder led the National League with an incredible 141 in 2009. Together, they will have the opportunity to create the same type of damage. In combined numbers that will send several AL pitchers to the bench before the day is out.
Fielder and Cabrera will knock runs in by the boatload this season. Pitchers will have no other choice than to throw Brennan Boesch who precedes the big men in the lineup in the No. 2 spot good pitches or risk the ensuing scoreboard logjam Fielder and Cabrera could create.
If Austin Jackson can return to his rookie season form, its likely most of the league's best RBI challengers will be left in the Cabrera and Fielder vapor trails.
Combined RBI: 260
*Fielder 140 / Cabrera 120
Doubles, triples, home runs—the Fielder-Cabrera duo will more often than not hit at least one per game between each other. More than likely a stat that will occur for both multiple times during the season and multiple times per game.
Cabrera and Fielder both hit a ton of extra-base shots and in combination they will double up like a Harvard grad in Vegas. A combined 1,075 career extra-base hits for the two mashers over 8,568 at-bats. A trend that is likely to continue in 2012.
Included in those numbers is 546 doubles, an astonishing stat compared to the 22 total triples they've hit. Powers like Cabrera and Fielder aren't likely to hit many triples, their job is to rip the ball into the seats with great regularity. Combined they've done it 507 times, averaging 33-plus each over a 162 game average.
Combined Extra-Base Hits: 170
*Cabrera 85 / Fielder 85
For hitters like Cabrera and Fielder, its all about getting extra-base knocks as often as possible. Slugging percentage becomes one of the truest measures of the type of damage big fellas like the Fielder-Cabrera combo can create.
While Fielder will more than likely hit more home runs than Cabrera, it is just as likely that Cabrera will have more total bases than Fielder and ultimately end up with a higher slugging percentage come October.
Cabrera has hit 45-plus doubles each of the last two seasons, leading the AL last season with 48. Fielder's numbers on doubles are nearly as fair having hit 30-plus five of the last six seasons, three times hitting 35.
One thing is certain, neither will hit too many three-baggers but round-trippers will be plentiful and provide plenty of excitement throughout 2012. Slugging percentages should skyrocket like an inside stock trade as a result.
Combined Slugging Percentage: .550 (averaged)
*Cabrera .560 / Fielder .540
Bold predictions are risky, this stat might prove the boldest of all. All signs point to a great season for the Tigers as a team, and in the end it will be the result of everyone's effort, but the Fielder-Cabrera combo will provide the greatest team highlights.
Both will have career seasons and both will hit for average higher than they ever have before, bold indeed.
If they hold par or improve in all major offensive statistics as expected, batting averages should follow suit.
Cabrera is poised for an MVP type of season after a scorching hot finish in 2012 that saw him climb to the top of the A.L. batting heap and finish as the champion, hitting .344. He also had a league-leading OBP of .448, his second year in a row (.420 in 2010). Cabrera will look to top .350 in 2012 and take home another major career highlight with his first MVP award.
Fielder should get the dividends of Cabrera's improved average and although he will see pitchers for the first time he will rack up plenty of hits. Pitchers are usually at an advantage in these situations, but Fielder is now a seasoned veteran and will earn his keep at the plate by hitting for the best average of his career.
Combined Batting Average: .333 (Averaged)
*Cabrera .355 / Fielder .310
Probably not a stat you would have expected to see on the list, but it raises an interesting question.
Will Fielder's presence in the lineup allow Cabrera enough opportunity at the plate to gain just enough more patience to put his already phenomenal hitting statistics in another category—a historic path?
Cabrera should have the best protection of his career with his placement in manager Jim Leyland's lineup. Hitting third will make him a threat to knock a run in at the start of every game, even if Jackson and Boesch fail to get on base. Cabrera will hit as many solo shots out of the park as he will of the multiple RBI variety.
Also likely, regardless of his prowess as a hitter, Fielder will strike out more in 2012 than he has in the past. The reason: he'll be seeing pitchers for the first time in his career throughout the season, much different than the comforts of rotations that he's seen on a regular basis during his seven seasons in Milwaukee.
He will also have to approach a game that is played in a different style. The American League is not the National League in more ways than one and this will cause Fielder some level of growing pains.
It will lend him an opportunity to get his feet up a bit more by serving as the the Tigers designated hitter, a luxury never afforded in the traditional pitcher hitting game of the National League.
Does this mean the pros and cons will offset in the wash?
Combined Strikeouts: 240
*Fielder 130 / Cabrera 110
Having just parsed on strikeouts, it wouldn't be fair to not also look at opportunities to get on base and the Fielder-Cabrera duo will wreak havoc for AL pitchers in this offensive category as well. Should they show the type of veteran patience expected they will draw plenty of free passes along the way, too.
Both Cabrera and Fielder have OBPs of .400-plus the past two seasons and there is no reason to think that 2012 will produce numbers any lower.
A lot of factors go into OBP, drawing walks is one of the most significant contributing factors. Fielder led the NL in 2010 with 114 bases on balls and Cabrera earned 108 last year, topping 100 for the first time in his career.
Fielder has had 100-plus walks in each of the last three seasons which coincides with a combined average OBP of .409. It is no coincidence that the increased number of walks for Fielder has resulted in a higher OBP than any of his previous four major league seasons.
Another bold prediction is that Delmon Young, who will follow Fielder in the No. 5 spot of the lineup, will also challenge the dynamic duo for the team leader in RBI. It is highly likely that Young will come to the plate with one of the two, if not both, at the plate with an opportunity to knock in runs.
Jhonny Peralta had a great season last year and could benefit as well should he repeat his outstanding stats in 2012.
Combined On-Base Percentage: .438
*Cabrera .455 / Fielder .420
Barring injury the Fielder-Cabrera duo will play plenty of games and get plenty of at-bats this season. Both players have an excellent attendance record and spend very little time on the bench, if any at all. A key statistic that should bode well for a Tigers team that will need consistency from the combo to nurture the younger bats of Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch.
No doubt Cabrera will get a bit more rest with the shift to third base duties this season, including 20-30 games as the Tigers designated hitter. Last season, Cabrera tied for the American League lead at 161 games played.
Fielder has done Cabrera better twice, having played every game last season and in 2009. His career 162 game average is 162. No rest for the wicked, Fielder's bat will be unrelenting on teams at times throughout the season.
Both will play nearly every game and nearly every game one or both will make another team pay the daily damage toll.
Combined Games Played: 315
*Fielder 160 / Cabrera 155
O.K., bold predictions means author's rights to be outlandish. So, why not? The simulated numbers of this listing would arguably give the Fielder-Cabrera duo the greatest single season one-two punch hitters of all time.
Why not go for the gusto? Actually, this should only be the beginning.
Don't get me wrong, this is no Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig combination or Eddie Mathews/Henry Aaron. Those duos are set apart as combos that played over the long haul of their careers together and proved to be offensive producers for over a decade in their own times.
The Tigers went all in when they signed Fielder and they expect nothing less than the type of production that will bring a World Series Championship to the Motor City. Fielder was an instant fan favorite and will be a sensational addition to Cabrera's potent bat.
The exchange of offensive dividends in 2012 will be historic and could begin a run for the Fielder-Cabrera duo that puts them in the class of Ruth and Gehrig.