Albert Pujols vs. Prince Fielder: Who Was The Better Free Agent Signing After Year 1?
Sunday October 28th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: If you want the concise version of last year’s offseason, there are only two names that you need to keep in mind—Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. While there were numerous other maneuverings and signings, those two overshadowed them all. And to no surprise, both garnered massive contracts. Fielder inked a 10-year $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, and Pujols also was signed to ten years, but $243 million from the Los Angeles Angels.
So, who has proven to be the better signing after year 1?
What Does Fielder Have Going For Him?
Well, let’s think about the obvious. Oh, here it is; the Tigers made the playoffs while the Angels limped to the finish line, falling short of the second Wild Card spot. On the other hand, Detroit swiftly crossed the finish line thanks to a big September. Importance is generally judged by two things by national pundits— overall stats and team’s success. Fielder boasts an edge over Pujols in both categories.
Making the switch from the National League to the American League usually isn’t a breeze, but Fielder hit a career-high .313 backed by 30 home runs and 108 RBIs. So it’s safe to say that he made the switch look easier than it should have been. Plus, without the former Brewer, Miguel Cabrera‘s hope of winning the triple crown award would have probably been much bleaker. Fielder practically matched Cabrera step for step in the final two months of the season. And matching someone of Cabrera’s level certainly isn’t an easy task, but Fielder made it happen. If there is anyone that Cabrera owes a great deal of gratitude for his huge season, it’s definitely Fielder.
Over the final two months of the season, Fielder posted an incredible line, hitting .337/.453/.608 with 14 home runs, which was nearly half of his overall total of 30. To no surprise, the Tigers went 34-24 during that 58 game span. Cabrera, meanwhile, posted a line that exceeded preposterous, as he hit .344/.411/.670 with 19 home runs, wrapping up the triple crown in the process.
For the sake of the argument, let’s say that Fielder scuffled in the season’s final two months. For one, that would put a dent in Cabrera’s triple crown chances because the presumable MVP wouldn’t have much protection behind him. And secondly, the Tigers would’ve likely fallen of the playoffs.
Granted, Fielder did not have a career year. He did not mash 40 home runs or drive in close to 120 runs. Yet, his campaign still ranks as one of the better and more consistent seasons in the majors. And despite all the criticism about his weight, he played in all 162 games for the Tigers. How’s that for durability?
What Does Pujols Have Going For Him?
Unlike Fielder, Pujols seemingly struggled with the change for the N.L to the A.L at first. Through the first two months (51 games), his OPS sat at just .697. The fact that he hit just eight home runs through 51 games was the main concern at that point.
However, his bleak first two months didn’t effect him from reaching the 30 home run and 100 RBI plateau. To be exact, he totaled 30 home runs and 105 RBIs with a .285 batting average. Pujols like? Not really. Either way, though, the Angels didn’t struggle because of only him. Sure, their expectations were a tad higher than what his final output looked like, but Los Angeles’s wobbly pitching staff is at blame as well.
This wobbly pitching staff, particularly the back-end of the bullpen, couldn’t seem to slam the door shut on close games which inevitably piled up heart-breaking losses. They totaled the most blown saves in the A.L with 23, and their bullpen posted the ninth worst ERA in the majors. So without dragging on about their unstable relief corps, not making the playoffs was not entirely Pujols’s fault. In fact, the only thing that Pujols did have control over (offense), wasn’t half bad. The Angels posted the fourth best OPS in the A.L, and hit the sixth most home runs in the A.L as well. If I’m not mistaken, Pujols was brought in to bolster Los Aneles’s offense.
Yes, the Angles fell short of the playoffs, but Pujols isn’t entirely at fault. Sure, he didn’t have one of his typical Pujols’ years, but he ended up with his numbers as always. The fact that LA didn’t make the playoffs shows that they still have some holes to fill despite bringing in Pujols and C.J. Wilson last offseason.
The Grand Conclusion
Everything aside, Fielder and Pujols are two of the game’s great first basemen, and they haven’t lost that title since transferring to the American League.
However, as Pujols begins to age, Fielder is still in the prime of his career and will be for the next few years. You can question his weight issues and durability, but he’s played in all 162 games for two consecutive seasons now.
Yes, Pujols has had the better overall career, but it’s time for him to move aside to make room for Fielder.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @TheJakeMan24
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Posted on October 28, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged albert pujols, baseball, detroit tigers, first base, free agent, los angeles angels, miguel cabrera, milwaukee brewers, mlb, mlb playoffs, prince fielder, st louis cardinals, world series. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.