Prince Fielder and 6 Players Already Better Than Their Former Big League Dads
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
After you worked your way through the superheros, chances are that at some point, you decided that you wanted to follow in your father's footsteps. Whether you did or your didn't is irrelevant to dad, who only wants his children to be happy and successful at whatever they decide to do.
For some kids, dad played professional baseball, and let's face it—genetics play a part in whether we have a chance of becoming phenomenal athletes or not. But for all of the sons of former major league players who have tried to do just that, more often than not they fall short of equaling dad's success.
But not always.
Seeing how it's Father's Day, what better time to take a look at some of the current second-generation ballplayers who have already surpassed their dad's exploits on the diamond?
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine, and let's meet the current players who have already bested dad's best.
Chris Bourjos's Stats (1980): 13 G, .227/.292/.409, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Peter Bourjos's Stats (2010-2012): 247 G, .249/.300/.405, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 33 SB
Traded to the Houston Astros along with Bob Knepper for Enos Cabell in 1980, Chris was a late-season call-up by the Astros later that year. His two-run home run off of Philadelphia Phillies' starter Dick Ruthven in the bottom of the ninth inning with Houston trailing by three on September 3, 1980, would serve as the highlight of his major league career. The Astros lost 4-3.
Currently buried on the bench on a crowded Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim team, Peter has had far more success than his father in a short period of time. A fantastic defensive center fielder with speed, he is in desperate need of a move to a team where he can play on a regular basis.
Jose Canó's Stats (1989): 6 G (3 GS), 1-1, 5.09 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 23 IP, 3.1 K/9, 1 CG, 1 SHO
Robinson Canó's Stats (2005-present): 1,116 G, .307/.347/.497, 155 HR, 651 RBI
Both Canó's began their major league careers with the New York Yankees, signing with the team as amateur free agents in 1980 and 2001, respectively, but only Robinson would become a Yankee Stadium favorite.
Jose, a right-handed starter, didn't make it to the big leagues until he was 27 years old, finally getting the call toward the end of the 1989 season by the Houston Astros. In his last major league game, Cano threw a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds—not a bad way to go out.
Robinson, however, has established himself as one of the best players in the game. A three-time All-Star and a perennial MVP candidate, he has enjoyed more success than either he or his father could ever have realistically expected.
Cecil Fielder's Stats (1985-1988; 1990-1998): 1470 G, .255/.345/.482, 319 HR, 1,008 RBI
Prince Fielder's Stats (2005-present): 1062 G, .285/.390/.538, 240 HR, 698 RBI
You'd be hard pressed to find a more physically imposing father-son combination in the history of the game than Cecil and Prince Fielder—two mammoth men, both with home run and RBI titles on their resume, who started their careers elsewhere before winding up at first base for the Detroit Tigers.
Cecil didn't break out until he was 26 years old, and by the time he was 33, he was no longer an everyday player. By the time he celebrated his 35th birthday, he was out of baseball.
Prince, on the other hand, has been one of the premier players in baseball since he hit 50 home runs at the age of 22, and with a contract paying him $214 million through the 2020 season when he'll turn 36.
Right now, we can say that Prince is better than his father ever was. By the time Prince's career comes to an end, their career numbers aren't likely to be remotely close.
I am not delving into the strained relationship that Prince has with his father because quite frankly, I don't think it's anyone's business but theirs. That being said, I can understand why people are interested. If you'd like to read about it, Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk put together an excellent piece on the Fielders last year.
Steve Grilli's Stats (1975-1977; 1979): 70 G (2 GS), 4-3, 4.51 ERA, 1.59 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 3 SV
Jason Grilli's Stats (2001-04; 2007-09; 2011-present): 292 G (16 GS), 21-20, 4.39 ERA, 1.44 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1 CG 3 SV
An undrafted free agent signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1970, Steve played all but one of his games in a Tigers' uniform (he played one game for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979.) Primarily a relief pitcher, Grilli struggled over parts of three seasons in Detroit.
Like his dad, Jason has primarily been a reliever over the course of his substantially longer career. He's played with six different teams but has found his greatest success with the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he's pitched since 2011.
Over the past two years, the younger Grilli has posted a 2.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and an impressive 12.2 K/9.
Ron Johnson's Stats (1982-1984): 22 G, .273/.310/.304, 0 HR, 2 RBI
Chris Johnson's Stats (2009-present): 271 G, .265/.360/.417, 23 HR, 122 RBI
Ron was a first baseman and outfielder who spent parts of three seasons with the Montreal Expos and Kansas City Royals. He would become a Triple-A manager and major league coach with the Boston Red Sox until he was dismissed along with Terry Francona. He's currently the manager of Baltimore's Triple-A team, the Norfolk Tides.
Chris is the starting third baseman for the Houston Astros, where he's flashed some pop in his bat but has issues with the glove, though to his credit he's been outstanding in the field thus far in 2012.
It's not as if his dad had a stellar playing career, so Chris didn't have to do much to surpass him. 27-years-old and entering the prime of his career, he has a chance to put significant distance between his numbers and those of his father.
Steve Swisher's Stats (1974-1982): 509 G, .216/.279/.303, 20 HR, 124 RBI
Nick Swisher's Stats (2004-present): 1,118 G, .254/.358/.467, 195 HR, 620 RBI
Both Swisher men were first-round picks—Steve was selected 21st overall by the Chicago White Sox in 1973 while Nick was the 16th pick of the 2002 draft by the Oakland A's.
Primarily a backup catcher, Steve made the National League All-Star team in 1976 as a member of the Chicago Cubs, the only season in which he appeared in more than 100 games.
While Nick has only made one All-Star appearance as well, as a member of the New York Yankees in 2009, he's already surpassed all of his father's statistics and sits on the verge of securing a multi-year contract that figures to pay him a small fortune.
Dennis Werth's Stats (1979-1982): 117 G, .209/.341/.302, 3 HR, 15 RBI
Jayson Werth's Stats (2002-2005; 2007-present): 952 G, .265/.360/.463, 143 HR, 476 RBI
Jayson's stepfather, Dennis was primarily a non-descript first baseman and outfielder who spent parts of three seasons with the New York Yankees and one with the Kansas City Royals, all before his 30th birthday.
His stepson, on the other hand, was a World Series hero in 2008 as he hit two home runs in Game 5 of the World Series, helping the Philadelphia Phillies clinch their first championship since 1980. One of the highest paid players in the game, he currently sits on the 60-day disabled list for the Washington Nationals with a fractured left wrist.
Players Who Could Surpass Their Fathers One Day
While these players have already made their major league debuts, they still have some work to do before they can be called better than dad—some more than others.
Ike Davis, son of Ron Davis, a reliever in the 1980s.
Kyle Drabek, son of Doug Drabek, 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner.
Dee Gordon, son of Tom "Flash" Gordon, a starter and reliever for 21 seasons.
John Mayberry Jr., son of John Mayberry, a two-time All-Star and slugger for the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Scott Van Slyke, son of Andy Van Slyke, a three-time All-Star and one of the better outfielders in the game over a 13-year career.
Will Venable, son of Max Venable, a light-hitting outfielder in the 1980s.
Neil Walker, son of Tom Walker, a right-handed relief pitcher in the 1970s.