Results tagged ‘ Prince Fielder ’
Albert Pujols hit home run Nos. 499 and 500 last night, as you know by now. He’s the 26th member of the 500-home run club, the third-youngest player to reach the milestone and the first to hit 499 and 500 in the same game. And he called his shot, too. Pujols’ homers came in a win, and he got the balls back from a couple of classy Angels fans. Perhaps the best part is that it comes as he’s proving to the world that he’s got a lot of game left, with a Major League-leading eight home runs to go along with a .274/.337/.619 slash line.
Pujols is signed for eight more years (including this one), through 2021. Here’s a look at where he’d finish up, if he plays through that contract, given certain home-run averages …
30-homer average: 732
25-homer average: 692
20-homer average: 652
15-homer average: 612
That’s pretty impressive, that Pujols could average a mere 15 homers for the life of his contract and still become only the ninth player ever to reach the 600-homer milestone. To catch Willie Mays‘ 660, he’d have to average 21 homers from 2014-21; to catch Babe Ruth‘s 714, he’d have to average nearly 28 homers; to catch Hank Aaron‘s 755, he’d have to average nearly 33 homers; to catch Barry Bonds‘ 762, he’d have to average nearly 34 homers.
But the most impressive thing about Pujols is that he isn’t defined by the home run.
He’s simply been a great hitter.
Consider: Pujols is only the ninth member of the 500-home run club with a career batting average of at least .300. And only three members have a higher one than Pujols’ current .321 clip — Ted Williams (.344), Babe Ruth (.342) and Jimmie Foxx (.325).
Yes, the general public has soured a bit on 500 homers, with Pujols becoming the 10th new member of the club in the last 15 years. But power numbers have gone down considerably in recent years, thanks in large part to tougher testing for performance-enhancing substances, and the 500-homer club — almost like the 300-win club, but not as drastic — could go a long time without a new member.
Here’s a look at the active home run leaders, beyond Alex Rodriguez (654) and Pujols, with their ages in parenthesis …
Adam Dunn (34): 444
Jason Giambi (43): 438
David Ortiz (38): 435
Paul Konerko (38): 434
Alfonso Soriano (38): 410
Adrian Beltre (35): 376
Carlos Beltran (37): 363
Aramis Ramirez (36): 357
Mark Teixeira (34): 341
Torii Hunter (38): 317
Besides maybe Dunn — and that’s still a big “maybe” — I don’t see anyone on that list who stands a chance at reaching 500. We may have to wait on the likes of Miguel Cabrera (367 at age 31) or Prince Fielder (287 at 29), or perhaps even Mike Trout (67 at 22) or Giancarlo Stanton (123 at 24).
And after Pujols — if he gets there — when’s the next time we’ll see 600?
“When you look at how great he’s been for the last 14 years, and you start averaging out what that meant to hit 500 home runs, it’s just an incredible feat,” Raul Ibanez said of Pujols. “Combine that with the lifetime batting average, the on-base percentage, it’s just extraordinary.”
Here’s how it stacked up in combined wins …
AL East: 433
NL Central: 421
AL Central: 400
NL West: 399
NL East: 391
AL West: 387
And here’s where it ranked in run-differential …
AL East: 235
NL Central: 219
AL Central: 0
NL West: -137
AL West: -138
NL East: -179
But AL West teams have been particularly aggressive in the early portion of this offseason — and yes, it’s worth reminding all of you that it is, indeed, still early — which could make for an interesting dynamic in 2014, and should make the Angels’ return to the postseason that much tougher.
The Mariners just reeled in the biggest free agent of the offseason, snatching Robinson Cano from the Yankees via a reported 10-year, $240-million, Albert Pujols-like contract. No, they aren’t an instant contender. And as the Angels themselves have shown, throwing the most dollars at the best free agent in no way guarantees success. But this is an important building block for a Mariners team that has always struggled to land the big names (see: Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder). At some point, you have to overpay to lay a foundation (the Mets thought the same thing with Curtis Granderson). This reminds me of the Jayson Werth deal the Nationals made three offseasons ago. It was a vast overpay at seven years and $126 million. But at that time, it was the only way the Nats were going to land a premier free agent. Adding Werth — even if he isn’t a star to the magnitude of Cano — changed the expectations in Washington and ultimately helped make it a place where free agents wanted to play. Same can happen in Seattle, where the Mariners are showing a willingness to spend. And if they trade for David Price — they have the prospects to do it — watch out.
In the words of one executive, “The A’s may have one of the best bullpens in history.” It’s not much of an exaggeration when you consider that they added Luke Gregerson to a group that includes Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, etc. Their rotation — Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, in whatever order — is darn good, as well. But here’s the most important part about the current A’s: After back-to-back exits in the Division Series, they’re going for it. You don’t trade for one season of Johnson, flip a talented prospect (Michael Choice) for Craig Gentry or give Kazmir a two-year, $22 million contract if you aren’t.
Then there are the Rangers, who you just know have another big more or two in them. I actually liked the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler deal for them (and loved it for the Tigers). They’re paying Fielder $138 million over the next seven years, which is very reasonable for a guy whose home-run rate will inflate in Texas and who gives them the middle-of-the-order bat they’ve been missing since Hamilton left. Over the last four years, the Rangers have the third-best regular-season winning percentage in the Majors (.570, trailing only the Yankees and Braves) and have been to the World Series twice. They had the 10th-best staff ERA in baseball last year, and they surely aren’t done.
Even the Astros have made some moves. They reached agreement on a three-year, $30 million deal with starter Scott Feldman — a guy the Angels would’ve liked, but not for three years — and previously traded for former Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. They were easily dead last in 2013 in winning percentage (.315) and run-differential (minus-238), so they’re a ways away. But they have the second-best farm system in the Majors, per Baseball America, and they’re on their way.
What does all this mean for the Angels?
Well, nothing. At least not now.
They have about $15 million and some trade chips — Howie Kendrick still chief among them — to fill two spots in their starting rotation. They still have baseball’s best player in Mike Trout, two premier superstars in Pujols and Hamilton, two legit starters at the top of their rotation in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and a bullpen that can be among the deepest in baseball if Sean Burnett returns to full health. If they can sign someone like Matt Garza, they’re no doubt a legit playoff contender, regardless of how bad this past season turned out for them.
But their competition just keeps getting better.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (6-5, 3.61 ERA)
Pitching: RH Rick Porcello (4-4, 4.74 ERA)
- After seeking a second opinion, Jason Vargas will indeed undergo surgery for the blood clot in his left armpit area. He’ll be away from throwing for two weeks and will start a rehab program thereafter, which could have him back by the end of July.
- Peter Bourjos sustained no structural damage in his left thumb, an MRI confirmed. He’s not in the lineup today, but is available to pinch-run and play defense. Bourjos is hopeful of returning on Tuesday.
- Hamilton, as you might have noticed, is back in the lineup after missing the weekend series against the Pirates with a sore right wrist. The wrist still bothers him when he slows down his swing, but it’s manageable.
- Both teams canceled pregame batting practice today due to a threat of rain, and now, at 5:35 p.m. ET, it’s starting to come down a little bit. Stay tuned …
Less than a week later, though, that went out the window.
“When Josh was originally signed and we had Kendrys Morales, who’s a bat we felt was going to be there, I think there was definitely some lineups that looked like it worked with Josh in the 2-hole,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, referencing an eventual trade that sent Morales to the Mariners for Jason Vargas on Dec. 19, four days after Hamilton was signed to a five-year, $125 million contract.
“It might evolve to adjusting it a little bit here or there. But right now the way we line up, and wanting to take advantage of Albert’s on-base percentage, where you project it to be, Josh hitting behind him makes sense right now both from a balance and production perspective.”
Pujols’ career on-base percentage is .414; Hamilton’s is .363. It makes sense to bat Albert third and Hamilton fourth, for the simple fact that he’d get more chances throughout the course of a season. For the Tigers, Prince Fielder started all 162 games last year in the cleanup spot and got 690 plate appearances; Miguel Cabrera started one less game in the No. 3 spot and finished with 697 plate appearances.
Subtle difference, sure, but you’re usually going to want the better hitter getting those extra 10 or 15 plate appearances.
Consider: Nobody in baseball saw fewer fastballs than Hamilton last year (44.6 percent) and nobody swung at more pitches outside of the strike zone (45.4 percent). With Pujols in the on-deck circle, and Mike Trout frequently on base, Hamilton only figures to see more fastballs and more strikes if he’s batting third rather than fourth.
But would pitchers really attack him much different — significantly different than they would if Hamilton batted fourth and Mark Trumbo was behind him?
Scioscia doesn’t think so, pointing to the fact Adrian Beltre was protecting him in Texas and Hamilton still saw an inordinate amount of breaking balls out of the strike zone. So, for now at least, he’s sticking to Hamilton as his cleanup hitter.
“I think it’s just a function of how Josh was pitched,” Scioscia said. “Sometimes the pitches [hitters] see is not going to be contingent on who’s behind him, it’s just going to be how guys are trying to pitch to them. And with Josh, I think it was more that case than anything else.”
I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.
But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.
In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …
- Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
- Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
- Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
- Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
- Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
- Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
- Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
- Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
- Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
- Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
- D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
- Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
- Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
- Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
- Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524
* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized.
** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (9-5, 2.43 ERA)
Pitching: RH Doug Fister (3-6, 4.39 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Dan Haren (stiff lower back) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session, is feeling good and is eyeing a weekend start against the Rangers. Asked about the pressure to pitch well, given how his return to form can impact how active the Angels are in the trade market? “No added pressure. I mean, the Trade Deadline is such a weird thing. I’ve gone through it personally. There’s only so much I can control. I want to come back and help this team. I’ve been a really good pitcher for eight or nine years. I’ve had a couple bad months, pitched through some stuff. I think people kind of forget how good I can be. It’s been kind of frustrating hearing all that stuff. I went on the DL to try and help this team, to get better for the last 12 starts I’ll make because I know those are going to be very important. I kinda had to swallow my pride and just get better.”
- Mike Scioscia, when asked about Vernon Wells’ role on the team when he gets back in late July (he’ll start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday): “We’re going to look at the situation presented when Vernon’s healthy and back and ready to go, but I think Vernon understands the situation. With the way Mike and Mark are playing, they’re going to be out there every day, and we’ll see how everything else folds in.”
- The Angels signed outfielder Trevor Crowe to a Minor League deal recently, shortly after he was released by the Indians. Crowe could’ve come over in the nixed Bobby Abreu deal of late March.
- Jerry Dipoto, on his ostracized center fielder: “At no point have we offered Peter Bourjos for anyone, starter or reliever.”
- Dipoto, on trades: “We have nothing significant or imminent at this time. We’re just doing our due diligence.”
- Jordan Walden (right biceps strain) is expected to throw again in a couple weeks. He’s waiting for some anti-inflammatories to set in.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) threw to second base again today and felt good.
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (2-1, 4.21 ERA)
Pitching: RH Justin Turner (0-1, 1.80 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Mike Scioscia finally relented, putting Trumbo in as the cleanup hitter behind Pujols, instead of Morales. “We all feel that Kendrys is pressing a little bit. He understands the importance of just being able to hit behind a guy like Albert. I don’t think he’s changed his game much, but right now he’s not very comfortable in the box. It doesn’t look like he’s attacking the ball like he can.”
- Haren (stiff lower back) is expected to be with the team today and will throw a bullpen session in the next couple days. Scioscia, on his rehab outing: “First couple innings was a little bit off of his command, but physically he felt great, so it was a good workout for him. He feels good.”
- Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) expects to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.
Some Angels.com links from Monday …
- Bullpen woes cost Angels a win
- Notebook, on Bourjos and the rumor mill, Chris Iannetta‘s throwing and Wells’ injury status
- Haren feels good after rehab outing
- Preview, on the Richards-Turner matchup
Some AL West links …
- Neftali Feliz makes headway in first rehab start
- Mariners cruise in Kansas City
- Inbox: Is Oakland a legit contender?
Mike Miller decides against retirement.
Pitching: RH Ervin Santana (4-9, 5.75 ERA)
Pitching: RH Rick Porcello (6-5, 4.47 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- The Angels haven’t made a formal announcement on their Tuesday starter yet, but plan on it being Garrett Richards.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) threw to bases today. Mike Scioscia said he “definitely took a step forward” but will have to repeat the workout before seeing when he’s ready to go out there and feel comfortable enough for a rehab assignment. “He had a good workout today, he’s just not quite where he needs to be.”
- Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) worked out again today and could get on a rehab assignment, probably 7-10 games, by this weekend.
- And this could be a very big week with regards to the Angels’ pursuit of a starting pitcher.
Some Angels.com links from Sunday …
- Bullpen almost blows it, but Angels escape Bronx with win
- Notebook, on Ernesto Frieri giving up his first run, Jordan Walden landing on the DL, Dan Haren‘s rehab, Hunter’s status, etc.
- Bloom: Angels facing fight to the finish in the AL
- Preview, on the Santana-Porcello matchup
Some AL West links …
- Rangers Inbox, on the pursuit for a starting pitcher and other stuff
- Mariners’ offense comes up empty against Matt Harrison
- A’s sweep Twins and are in contention (at least for now)
And Chris Bosh expects his role to change given the Heat’s new acquisitions.
KANSAS CITY — Mark Trumbo impressed a lot of people with his Home Run Derby showing on Monday night, even though he was eliminated in a tiebreaker swing-off by Jose Bautista. Asked for his favorite of the 13 through the first two rounds, Trumbo narrowed it down to two — the one that landed on the roof of the Hall of Fame building beyond the left-field bleachers (measured at a conservative 428 feet); and the smoking line drive out to straightaway center (420).
“I’d say the one on top of the roof,” Trumbo said, before backtracking — “but the one to center was impressive. I think a lot of the guys really liked the line drive.”
Trumbo’s average distance per home run — 434 feet — was the longest among the competitors, including champion Prince Fielder. He started off slow each round, then got into a little bit of a rhythm towards the middle, but felt he could’ve done better.
“I felt like I never really got into a great rhythm,” Trumbo said. “It seemed like I’d hit one, make an out, and then have to take a few pitches. Ideally, the goal is to get into an extended rhythm, kind of like Prince did, and then rattle off a better total. My biggest thing was just to have fun with it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I wanted to get one. That was the advice — don’t get a goose egg.”
Trumbo’s favorite moment?
“[David Ortiz] pulled me aside before I left yesterday and that was really cool,” he said. “He was telling me it took him three or four times of doing it to really feel like he — not had it down, but had a chance. Things move very, very quickly when you’re out there. You can’t really simulate that.”
But C.J. Wilson, at least, can capture it.
As usual, Wilson was out there with his camera and estimated taking roughly 800 photos of the Derby participants. He’ll look over them when he has time in the next few days and print them out for Trumbo to keep.
“I had my brand-new camera out there, taking some cool images that I’ll process while we’re on the road in the next couple days and see if I can come up with some winners,” Wilson said. “It’s just fun. Jered [Weaver] and Mike [Trout] and I were out there just trying to hype him up and keep him motivated and have a good time. It’s a lot of pressure out there, when you’re the only guy batting for a couple minutes at a time in front of the fans.”
Trumbo’s roommate also TiVo’d it. But many of those in attendance won’t need reminders of the show Trumbo put on. Many were impressed.
“I know my Twitter following went way up,” Trumbo said with a smile.
“Any time I’m in something, I want to win. But I’m going to take away some really cool memories from it.”
Some other pre-All Star Game notes
- Asked about their friendship in a pregame presser, Trout joked of Bryce Harper: “We don’t like each other.” Bryce: “It’s like Bird and Magic. He’s Magic, I’m Bird.”
- Maybe more LeBron and Wade? “I hope I play with [Trout] one day,” Harper said. “I think him playing center field, me playing right field, as a one-two punch, I think that’d be fun.”
- Trout was asked who wins in a footrace between him and Peter Bourjos. His response: “I think Peter’s got me around the bases in an inside-the-parker, but home to first, we were talking about it the other day, I think I have him by a couple of steps.”
- Weaver was told he’ll pitch the fifth inning tonight. As for how it affects him for the second half? It’s just like a normal bullpen session.
- Trout and Trumbo are not really sure when they’ll get in. “I have all my gloves, as usual,” Trumbo said. C.J., of course, is sitting out due to a blister he doesn’t expect to impact his second half.
- Weaver on not being named the starter for the All-Star Game a second straight year, despite leading the Majors with a 1.96 ERA: “I told you guys, whatever happens, I’m just excited to be here, be a part of it. Obviously it would’ve been cool to start back-to-back years, but I’m just excited to be able to get out there and throw an inning and just be part of this whole experience. It’s fun. It’s great to hang out with all these guys and just see who they are as a person instead of just battling against him.”
- One guy Weaver was really excited to get to know a little better here: Adam Dunn. “He’s a funny character, man.”
Some Angels All-Star Game links …
- Not surprisingly, Trout the center of attention in KC
- Futures Game story, on Jean Segura and Ariel Pena
- Blister forces Wilson to sit out All-Star Game
Some intriguing All-Star Game stories …
- Richard Justice, on Harper and Trout
- Robinson Cano didn’t have a great HR Derby experience
- R.A. Dickey, David Wright not starting despite great halves
- The Rangers have an entire caravan at the All-Star Game
- All-Stars set for Royal treatment (get it?)
The lineups …
Carlos Gonzalez, DH (COL)
Melky Cabrera, CF (SFG)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Carlos Beltran, RF (StL)
Buster Posey, C (SFG)
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (SFG)
Dan Uggla, 2B (ATL)
Rafael Furcal, SS (StL)
SP: RH Matt Cain (SFG)
SP: RH Justin Verlander (DET)
Back on Dec. 13, 2007, a 32-year-old Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million contract extension with the Yankees. That contract is now the only one that trumps the one signed by Albert Pujols, which is for 10 years and $240 million and was signed about a month before his 32nd birthday.
The Angels hope to get a lot more bang for their buck than the Yankees seem to be getting.
A-Rod had a good game Friday, going 3-for-4 with a homer in New York’s 5-0 win, and is still among the best at his position. But he played in just 99 games last year and has been on a steady decline since winning his last MVP in ’07. Now, as he enters Year 5 of 10, A-Rod’s deal looks like one of the worst in baseball. The only major difference between the two contracts is that while Pujols’ is heavily back-loaded, A-Rod got most of his money up front (not sure that matters one way or the other, though).
Through the first seven games — and remember that it’s only seven games and he was bad throughout all of April before turning it around last year — Pujols is homerless while batting only .222 (6-for-27).
Pressure to live up to the contract?
“I can’t speak for Pujols or anyone else,” Rodriguez said. “I think overall, you come into a new city, big market, big expectations and big contract, and it’s natural for you to try to do a little bit too much.”
Prior to Friday’s series opener, Pujols admitted that may be the case.
“Probably; trying to do too much,” he said. “I mean, we’re human. I’m a human. Sometimes that’s going to happen, no matter how you prepare yourself. Sometimes you press a little bit and try to do too much. But I think after a week or two, everything is slowed down. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long.”
When A-Rod signed his most recent deal –which wound up being his second $200 million contract — that much money was basically an anomaly. But recently, the $200 million threshold has been broken by three first basemen — Pujols, Prince Fielder and, most recently, Joey Votto.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Pujols said when asked of the three big contracts signed by first basemen. “All I can tell you right now is where we’re at and the contract that I signed. Take it one day at a time, and then take it 10 years from now and look at how good a contract it was.”