MLB Free Agency: Comparing Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder

Jim MancariCorrespondent IApril 21, 2011

MLB Free Agency: Comparing Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder

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    At season’s end, two big-time sluggers appear set to hit the free agent market.

    First basemen Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers will seek multi-year contracts worth well over $100 million.

    Both should garner much attention—so much so that a contender may look to acquire one as they prepare for a postseason push. However, the Cardinals and Brewers hope their stars are the ones leading their teams into the postseason.

    If you could take your pick, would you choose Pujols or Fielder?

    Though Pujols seems to be the obvious choice, the decision would be a tougher one to come by considering the following six reasons.

6. Power

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    Both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have serious power.

    Pujols has averaged 42 HR per 162 games, while Fielder has averaged 37.

    Of the two, Fielder has the only 50 HR season, which he accomplished in 2007.

    Though Pujols leads with a .622 career slugging percentage, Fielder is no slouch, checking in at .536.

    If they stay healthy, both players appear to be locks to hit 40+ HR and drive in at least 100-120 runs each year.

    There isn’t a team in the majors that wouldn’t want to add sluggers of this caliber.

    Advantage: Push

5. Clutch Hitting

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    With the game on the line in the late innings, there aren’t too many better options out there than Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.

    Both players have shown a proficiency for driving in runs to either give their team the lead or win in walk-off fashion.

    Though he was fined for his actions, Fielder orchestrated one of the greatest walk-off celebrations in MLB history.

    While Pujols may not display the fanfare, he too has racked up the clutch hits during his career.

    Players earn their living on being able to drive-in runs in clutch situations, so Pujols and Fielder will cash in this offseason.

    Advantage: Push

4. Defense

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    Though both players are known for their offensive abilities, Albert Pujols is a rock defensively.

    He’s a two-time Gold Glove winner, but if it wasn’t for slick-fielding NL first basemen Adrian Gonzalez, Derrek Lee and Todd Helton, Pujols could have over five Gold Gloves by now.

    A good defensive first baseman is underrated in the game today. Having the ability to handle bad throws and turn them into outs prevents runs from scoring.

    Prince Fielder is a serviceable defensive first basemen, but he does not have the range of Pujols.

    While Fielder has a .993 career fielding percentage, his lack of mobility prevents him from getting to balls that could be outs.

    Advantage: Pujols

3. Youth

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    One thing that the Prince Fielder has going for him in relation to Albert Pujols is his youth.

    Fielder is only 26, and will be 27 by the time he hits free agency. In contrast, Pujols turned 31 earlier this year.

    Though Pujols has shown no signs of slowing down, will he be the same player at age 35 that he is now?

    Both players will be looking for at least five-year contracts, so teams may view the younger Fielder as the safer option.

    Advantage: Fielder

2. Physique

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    Though he can hit the ball a mile, Prince Fielder isn’t exactly in prime physical condition.

    He’s listed at a generous 275 pounds.

    While his position doesn’t require a tremendous amount of mobility, teams may be skeptical that his large frame will cause him to wear down quicker.

    Pujols, on the other hand, is a perfect physical specimen. He’s proven that he is durable, having only spent two stints on the disabled list in 10 years.

    Fielder hasn’t played in less than 157 games since taking over the starting job for the Brewers, but that may also be a factor in him possibly breaking down mid-contract.

    Advantage: Pujols

1. Availability

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    Albert Pujols has accomplished almost everything in this game. He’s a World Series champion, three-time MVP, Rookie of the Year winner and nine-time All-Star.

    As a result, Pujols will command possibly the largest contract in MLB history.

    It’s been rumored that Pujols could command a 10-year, $300 million contract. Pujols is arguably the best player in the game. Alex Rodriguez earned a 10-year, $275 million contract, so if Pujols is better, he should get more money.

    The accolades are starting to pile up for Prince Fielder as well. He’s a two-time All-Star who won the HR crown and a Silver Slugger award in 2007.

    However, despite his youth, Fielder isn’t a candidate for a 10-year contract. A team willing to offer Fielder five years and $100 million may be able to get a deal done.

    While both players will receive gargantuan contracts, Fielder may be the more affordable commodity.

    Advantage: Fielder