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:

 

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a student from the Bay Area. He has followed Bay Area sports for years, and enjoys writing about the various Bay Area teams. He is an assistant editor at Golden Gate Sports, and the editor of Blue Man Hoop. If you need to contact Jake, email him: jakedalporto@gmail.com

Posted on October 28, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Answer is none of the above. Never a good idea to sign longterm contracts like that. It is proven again and again. Fielder will probably be 700 lbs by the end of his contract.

  2. in regard to AlbertP VS Prince Fielder –Based on the 2012sesaon I would have to say it was Prince .Thst being said we all need to In addition knowlege that Albert P is the bettervballplayer.In addition we all know no matter what happens moving forward Albert will be joining many others in The Hall of Frame .Prince is great Home Run Hitter However he is a below average all round player .Looking to the future it’s more likely that Prince will have some diffculties with his weight and this will restrict his movability and make him a DH As far Albert P is concerned he got off to terrible start with Angels and although it wasn’t something anybody talked about you got the impression that he wasn’t a team player .I believe Slbert P is a Super Star. who one day will be in Coopertown with many others but do question whether he is a Selfish Ballplayer.It’s also my view that The Angels over payed for AlbertP In StLouis for all those years he. Wasn’t InThe National Spot Light and perhaps sheltered from any criticism

  3. comment Two Regarging AlbertP VS Prince Fielder- when looking this past season at the Stats for 2012 I found That Prince Numbers were similar to Albert P this came as a little surprise Athough Albert P is considered a Super Star and Prince is considered to be very good ball player I found it interesting that there numbers would be similar this past season It’s my blief that Albert P was sheltered while playing in Stlouis .I believe he should have stayed there .In addition based on his first season in the American League and some issues he had last World Series2011 with meeting with Press after a loss makes me wonder about his overall attitude when things don’t go his way .A good example of this was his conflict with Angels Batting Coach Mickey Hatcher Bascially what saying is Athough there is little doubt thatch is a Super Star he isnt a perfect ballplayer without faculties or Issues

  4. Okay so Albert’s introduction to the AL did not go as expected, but lets be honest, would we be having this conversation if the first two months of the 2012 season had been typical Albert? No. Prince is great and younger, but I am sure that he will not have the type of longevity Albert has had unless he losses a few pounds. It is not fair to judge someone who has possess a longer resume negatively due to two bad months. This is a great example of why comparing players is so difficult because I would certainly love having either one of these guys in my lineups.

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for the input. Pujols raked to a tune of over 1.00 OPS past May.24th on and the team was definitely a whole lot different when Mike Trout was in the lineup (8-17 with out Trout and 81-56 with him). Pujols took a while to become adjusted to the AL. Take Adam Dunn’s 2011 year as an example. I am not comparing the players, just that it takes a while to learn the new League. Albert is especially one of the better players in terms of following a set routine. Look for the Angels to be one of the (if not the best) teams to look out for in 2013. I would expect Albert will have 80 Extra Base hits with a .300 Average and will be right up there in RBI. Prince Fielder probably has 5-6 more years before he will begin to struggle. I have an article for you that explains how heavier players have trouble once they hit their mid-30′s http://mlbreports.com/2012/01/16/tall-heavy/ You are right that both of these guys would be great to have on your team. I think Jake was just explaining that Fielder is only in his late 20′s while Pujols is entering his mid 30′s. My guess is that they both will put up similar numbers for the next five years. After that, it would be a crapshoot to predict.

  5. Its is common knowledge weight takes a toll on players i.e. Frank Thomas. I also expect Prince to continue to produce for at least the next four years. I also understand the age issue with Albert is the kind of player who will surely produce into his late 30′s early 40′s. Trust me, he will carry the Angels offensively next year, most people overlook the fact pitchers will have Trout figured out next year, and the influence of Torii Hunter will be gone. By the way, this is a great website, love your work, helping me think baseball 365, which I love, you have to be ready when fantasy season starts, thanks a lot.

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