The Baseball Struggles of Tall/Heavy Players After 30: Is Prince Next?

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Friday, Apr.12/2013

Prince Fielder will turn 29 in May.  Throughout my studies of some extremely tall - or heavy player, the time of deterioration in ones ability seems to seep in about 34.  In my opinion, the club should move to trade Victor Martinez and shift Fielder over to the DH position ASAP, so they can preserve his  body for the next 8 years of his contract.  He will be 37 when his big deal ends.  Fielder has a Career 3 Slash Line of .287/.393/.931

Prince Fielder will turn 29 in May. Throughout my studies of some extremely tall – or heavy playera, the time of deterioration in ones ability seems to seep in about the  34 Year Old Age range. In my opinion, the club should move to trade Victor Martinez and shift Fielder over to the DH position ASAP, so they can preserve his body for the next 8 years of his contract. He will be 37 when his big deal ends. Fielder has a Career 3 Slash Line of .287/.393/.931.  The second generation Fielder, has clubbed 262 HRs and added 774 RBI in 1168 Games Played.  Will he suffer the same fate as the others in this article (including his dad) – or will he buck the trend?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

I am still astounded when I see that Prince Fielder has not been turned into a Full – Time DH – and can still man the position of First Base. The Tigers were lucky enough to sign him last year.

So when should the club decide to take the glove out of Fielder’s hand? 

Victor Martinez is there at the Designated Hitter position now, however they should convert Prince Fielder to DH the second V-Mart vacates the club after the 2014 season.

When I thought about this a little more I realized that tall/heavy hitters really have a tough time keeping their productivity up once they are near the second half of their career.  It is really not that hard to figure out.  

A player that is taller also carries a larger Strike Zone, where the overweight players will only lose any speed they had as their career starts winding down.  

For this particular article, I choose 4 players to study this exact scenario. Those players are: Richie Sexson, Tony Clark, Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder.

Prince Fielder wins the 2012 HR Derby:

is 6’8" and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1990 Amateur Draft.  Clark started out his first seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers by hitting .277 with 156 HRs and 514 RBs.  While he was not as potent as Richie Sexson, Clark ended his career with Tigers with a Slugging Percentage of .502.  At age 30, the Boston Red Sox now had Clark as their 1st baseman. However, this was short-lived as he struggled badly.

is 6’8″ and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1990 Amateur Draft. Clark started out his first seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers by hitting .277 – with 156 HRs and 514 RBI. While he was not as potent as Richie Sexson, (Clark ended his career as a Tiger with a Slugging Percentage of .502.)

Tall Players:

Tony Clark (Career .262 Avg, 252 HR and 824 RBI)

At age 30, the Boston Red Sox now had Clark as their 1st Baseman.  This was short-lived as the man struggled in Beantown.

In 2003 and 2004, Clark spent time as injury relief for both of the New York teams.

The Mets used Clark when Mo Vaughn retired in 2003, while the Yankees had him play 1st base when Jason Giambi was out for the year with stomach pains in 2004.  

In both cases Clark responded with 16 HRs, in half of the at-bats of a regular year.  Tony Clark played regularly during the next season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting 30 HRs in only 130 games, while also Slugging a career best .636.

The man struggled to stay healthy after that year, although he provided some nice pop as a pinch hitter.  His career as a regular had been over since he had turned 33.

Richie Sexson (Career .261 Avg, 306 HR  and 943 RBI)

Sexson is one of the tallest players ever at 6’6".  For the first 9 years of his career, this Oregon Native terrorized pitchers and routinely deposited baseball into the bleachers.  During those years, the man clubbed 270 HRs and drove in 824 RBI:  power numbers that put him amongst the best in baseball.  Despite being quite thin, Richie began having problems in the field and at the plate once he hit the age of 32.

Sexson is one of the tallest players ever at 6’6″. For the first 9 years of his career, this Oregon Native terrorized pitchers and routinely deposited baseball into the bleachers. During those years, the man clubbed 270 HRs – and drove in 824 RBI: power numbers that put him amongst the best in baseball. Despite being quite thin, Richie began having problems in the field and at the plate once he hit the age of 32.

In 2007, Richie Sexson only hit .205 and was Striking out on the outside pitch at the knees frequently.  We are talking about a professional hitter who put together 6 -100 RBI seasons.

Within a year, Sexson was out of the league without any takers.  It wasn’t a real gradual drop either.  

At Age 31, the man hit 34 HRs and 107 RBI for Seattle, a place where half of his games were played at pitcher friendly Safeco Field.

Heavy Players:

Mo Vaughn (Career.293 Avg,  328 HRs and 1064 RBI)

Mo Vaughn is listed as weighing only 225 pounds at baseball reference.com, but for those that watched him play, knew that was way under the weight Vaughn played at once he left Boston.  Vaughn spent his first 8 years with Boston hitting .304 with 230 HRs and 752 RBI.  Vaughn was named the 1995 AL MVP when he hit 44 HRs and drove in 143 RBI.

Mo Vaughn is listed as weighing only 225 pounds at baseball reference.com, but for those that watched him play, knew that was way under the weight Vaughn played at once he left Boston. Vaughn spent his first 8 years with Boston hitting .304 with 230 HRs and 752 RBI. Vaughn was named the 1995 AL MVP when he hit 44 HRs and drove in 143 RBI.

The man was a beast in his Boston days.  After posting 2 decent years with the then ‘California Angels’ hitting 30 HRs and driving in 100+ RBI, Vaughn signed with the New York Mets.

 Vaughn showed up to camp out of shape (at age 34) and slumped in his first year with the Mets.  More health issues came up the next year and a knee injury brought the man to retirement.  Those were knee problems that arose very likely from carrying all that extra weight on his frame.

Cecil Fielder (Career .255 Avg,  319 HRs and 1008 RBI)

This was a classic example of what I am talking about. With the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil hit 31 HRs in only 504 ABs. But there was a problem.  The Jays featured AL Home Run king Fred McGriff at that time – with John Olerud in the system, so Cecil Fielder was off to play in Japan for a season.  

Earlier in Cecil’s career, he was much leaner until he joined the Detroit Tigers. In 1990, ‘Big Daddy’ signed with the Detroit Tigers and went on to hit 51 HRs and drove in 132 RBI  It was the first time a player had hit 50 HRs in a year since George Foster did it in 1977.

At age 34 Cecil was big and slow and ended his career after a great 10 year run.

So maybe this is the reason that teams had not signed Prince Fielder  to a huge 8 + years contract until the Tigers swooped in and made a 9 YR/$214 Million Dollar offer.

Based on my research, the most I would have given Prince was a 5-year deal.  The Tigers could have paid him more annually for a shorter term, but not make the mistake as other teams have made in the past by adding additional years.  

Many of the teams that sign these huge 9 Figure Contracts are happy at first to secure the players – only to regret the 2nd half of these big contracts – when the production falls off dramatically into their mid 30’s.

At some point, Cabrera, Verlander and Fielder will also be broken up, with one of them leaving. It seems to me that the reigning MVP might price himself out of Motown in a few years. The two men both can’t play the DH position, plus by then, neither of them would make sense to play in at a defensive position either.

Whatever happens – I do not want to add Prince to this list (with his dad) after his career is over.

Cecil Fielder led the league in RBI for his first three years with the Tigers, and he also finished with 44 HRs to lead the league in homers for his second year with Detroit. At the age of 32, he was traded to the New York Yankees at the deadline before helping them secure New York’s first championship since 1978.  After the following season, the Yanks felt they were better suited to use Darryl Strawberry at DH and Tino Martinez at 1st base, so they let Cecil leave.

Cecil Fielder led the league in RBI for his first three years with the Tigers, and he also finished with 44 HRs to lead the league in homers for his second year with Detroit. At the age of 32, he was traded to the New York Yankees at the deadline before helping them secure New York’s first championship since 1978. After the following season, the Yanks felt they were better suited to use Darryl Strawberry at DH and Tino Martinez at 1st base, so they let Cecil leave.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here . You can also follow my Guinness Book of World Record Successful Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 Days – click here

I am happy to be part of such an awesome Magazine-Style Baseball Website and am looking forward to talking to all of the fans of the MLB.  You can reach me on Twitter here

Ben Fallon (Left) and Chuck booth (Right)  at Nats Park (Patriots Day 2012)

Ben Fallon (Left) and Chuck booth (Right) at Nats Park (Patriots Day 2012)

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on April 12, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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