That Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are the two biggest and baddest players available in free agency this baseball offseason is not news.
They are both game changers.
They both possess the ability to put a team on their back and carry them over an extended period of time. Sure in basketball, that's a pretty common trait, however, to be capable of doing such in baseball is a tremendous feat.
For sure, it's a quality that few in the game possess and it just so happens that two such men enter free agency this offseason.
It is sure to be a feeding frenzy—don't be shocked to read reports of multiple teams being interested and making offers. Some of those reports will be true and some will be false.
One truth that you can take to the bank though, is that both Pujols and Fielder will both be heading there with you.
Both players are in line for contracts that will pay $25 million or more per annum.
Both players share similarities. They also have their differences.
Fielder finds himself as one of the key components to the Brewers recent successes. Even helping to lead the Brewers to the National League Central championship. Beating out, Pujols and the Cardinals for that division crown.
In the end though, the Cardinals prevailed over the Brewers in the National League Championship while en route to winning their second world series during Pujols' tenure.
However, inevitably one of these players will be paid more than the other.
Just who should be the winner, at least monetarily, remains in question.
Allow me to help with the answer.
First and foremost, what will play into the size and length of each players contract is their age.
On opening day, 2012, Albert Pujols will be 32 years old. Prince Fielder will be 28.
I for one was pretty surprised when I realized that Pujols will turn only 32 on his next birthday. It just seems like he's been doing it for so long.
I guess that shouldn't really surprise me though because let's face it, he has been doing it for a long time. Since entering the Majors eleven years ago, Pujols has been the game's best player. There may have been a couple of seasons in which others out performed him, however, those instances are few and far between.
In his eleven seasons with St. Louis, Pujols has collected three (2005, 08, 09) N.L. MVP's. In three other season's, 2001, 2002, and 2003 he finished immediately behind a player or players who have been implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs. What this is saying is, conceivably, Pujols could have six MVP awards to his credit in eleven seasons.
Not to mention his second place finish in the 2010 voting, where he was edged by Joey Votto, which could have just as easily gone his way.
In addition to the 2010 season, he finished second one other time as well as third in another season, however, in that third place finish, one of those ahead of him that year, again, is a man who has since been implicated with PED use.
Simply put, Albert Pujols is the greatest player of his generation. He is very durable. He hasn't played in fewer than 143 games in a season. He's also hit 40+ home runs six times and has never hit fewer than 32 in a season.
Only one time in eleven seasons has Pujols failed to plate 100 or more RBI. He knocked in 99 this past season after spending some time on the DL and playing in only 147 games.
Coincidentally, or not so, depending on who you speak with, 2011 was also the first time Pujols didn't manage to bat .300, in fact his finishing batting average of .299 was 13 points less than his previous season low and 29 points short of his career average.
One can't help but wonder what kind of toll, with the rigors of playing his average 155 game season, is taking on his body. In 2010, while his numbers were outstanding, they were still not quite the Pujols numbers of years past. Sure he clubbed 42 homers, good for fifth best in his career, but his .312 average was his lowest, prior to this season. He also knocked in 118 runs, which is good for just seventh best in his career.
2011 was not the ideal free agent season, at least in terms of personal production for Pujols.
You have to wonder, how much the past two seasons,"down" seasons, if your Albert Pujols, will play in to the length and value of Pujols' impending payday.
On the flip side is Prince Fielder. Fielder is very much considered a star on the rise. Gifted with tremendous power, Fielder can hit home runs as far and as frequently as anyone in the majors.
He also manages to hit for what can only be described as a pretty good average for someone with such home run prowess. His lifetime .282 average is as good or better than most of his contemporaries.
In 2011, Fielder hit .299 which equaled his career high in batting average, set in 2009. That 2009 season, he also had 141 RBI and hit 46 homers. The power numbers were down from those lofty numbers, however the 38 home runs and 120 RBI that he did produce in 2010 placed him second in both categories among NL players. That's pretty solid production, especially as he was just one home run and six RBI shy of first place.
Like Pujols, Fielder is about as durable a player as there is in baseball. Twice in his six full seasons with Milwaukee, Fielder has played in all 162 games. In another season, he played 161. He has never played less than 157 games in a season.
Outside of Pujols, that kind of durability is hard to come by.
Some people might question Fielder's frame as a hindrance. He's listed as 5'11 and 275 pounds, on baseball-reference.com. While that may be true about his defense which surely suffers at least in part to his size, it sure doesn't seem to hurt his offense or his durability.
At least not yet.
It seems to reason though, that sometimes the larger players tend to break down a little more quickly and abruptly as those who are leaner.
While that is the major question at this point with Fielder, he's done well to give no hint that it will become a reality.
Another reason, as much as I hate to admit it, that Fielder is in line for the biggest payday of his career is actually a simple one.
Fielder is represented by super agent Scott Boras.
In fact, Prince Fielder actually out earned Albert Pujols in 2011, by nears $1 million.
If Boras knows anything, it is how to get his clients paid. He is relentless, shrewd and brilliant. He's a piranha, great white and any other predator all rolled into one. He will be sure to have his client sign on the dotted line of a contract that is just well...huge.
Ultimately though, who is going to get the bigger payday.
Will it be Pujols or Prince?
Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of Boras, it will be Pujols who gets the bigger deal. And rightfully so. He has to. He's the best player to come along in a long time and the fact that he isn't already paid like it is for the lack of a better word, shocking.
Sometime over the next couple of months, that will all change and Albert Pujols will get paid!
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