Why Prince Fielder Has Already Surpassed His Father's Greatness
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Comparing Prince Fielder to Cecil Fielder is inevitable. We're always curious if the son can live up to the father's achievements—or even surpass them.
Admittedly, the situation isn't quite the same as it might be for, say, Tony Gwynn Jr.
Not only does Tony Gwynn's Hall of Fame career loom over his son's, but the younger Gwynn has the same name. The senior Tony Gwynn didn't do Junior any favors there. Comparisons are going to be made every time his name is mentioned.
But while Cecil Fielder had a respectable, and at times, spectacular career, he wasn't a Hall of Famer. So Prince Fielder had less of a shadow hovering over him as he's progressed through his major league career.
If attempts to compare Prince to his father had died down as he established himself as one of the best hitters in baseball, the connection renewed once Prince decided to sign with the Detroit Tigers, with whom Cecil made a name for himself.
Has Prince Fielder already surpassed his father's achievements on the baseball field, however? If so, has he earned the right to have comparisons between son and father dismissed from here on out?
We say yes. Eight seasons into his major league career, Prince Fielder has outshined his elder. No. 28 for the Tigers has eclipsed the man who wore No. 45 in Detroit in almost every aspect of the game. Here are three reasons why:
Swings the Bigger Stick
From 1990-91, Cecil Fielder was the most powerful hitter in baseball, slugging a combined 95 home runs.
In 1990, he hit 51 homers, becoming the first player to surpass that milestone in a season since George Foster did so in 1977. In his subsequent six seasons, Fielder hit 30 or more homers five times.
Prince Fielder also joined the 50-homer club in 2007, just his second full major league season. From there, he hit at least 30 home runs in each of the next four years, highlighted by 46 homers in 2009. He could reach the 30-homer mark again this season, though with 15 homers after 99 games, he's slightly behind pace to do so.
After his first eight major league seasons, Cecil Fielder had 191 home runs. Prince Fielder has 245 homers with 63 games remaining in his eighth year, as of this writing.
For his career, Cecil hit 319 home runs. Prince is only 74 behind him. If he hits home runs at his current pace, averaging 31 bombs per season, son will pass father three years from now. Under contract for eight more seasons with the Tigers, Prince should reach 400 career homers.
Shows a Better Eye
Strikeouts are a problem for virtually every power hitter. With a slugger swinging as hard as he can at a baseball, he's bound to miss plenty of times. During his 51-homer season in 1991, Cecil Fielder also struck out 182 times, which led the majors. He struck out 151 times in each of the next two seasons.
The most strikeouts Prince Fielder has had in a season is 138, which he reached in two consecutive seasons from 2009-10.
Prince is also far better at drawing walks than his father was. The most Cecil ever drew in a season was 90, which he did twice. Prince has earned 100 or more walks in three of his eight seasons. In 2010, he led the league in walks, getting 114.
The younger Fielder has also benefited from intentional walks, leading the majors with 32 last season. That's probably because he had Casey McGehee and his .626 OPS batting behind him with the Brewers. The older Fielder had guys like Kirk Gibson and Mickey Tettleton batting in the No. 5 spot of the Tigers lineup.
Cecil's career on-base percentage was .345. Prince's is currently .390.
How else can we demonstrate that Prince Fielder has already surpassed Cecil Fielder?
Prince has a .285 career batting average and .925 OPS. Cecil batted .255 for his career with an .827 OPS.
Cecil was named to three All-Star teams during his career. Including this season, Prince has been on four All-Star teams and will likely be on several more to come.
Prince has flashed a little bit of speed in his eight seasons, swiping 17 stolen bases. Cecil managed to steal two bases in his 13 years in the big leagues.
Then, of course, there's the money. It's not a fair comparison to draw because the money is much, much bigger now than it was in Cecil Fielder's heyday.
Nonetheless, the elder Fielder signed a five-year, $36 million contract in 1993. Prince, as we know, hit the jackpot with the Tigers, getting a nine-year, $214 million deal before this season.
According to Baseball-Reference.Com, Cecil Fielder earned $34.5 million in seven seasons with the Tigers. (The New York Yankees paid the final $9.2 million of his contract when Cecil was traded there in 1997.) That means Tigers owner Mike Ilitch will have paid almost $250 million to guys named Fielder.
Little Caesars better be the Fielder family's favorite pizza.
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