Despite Baltimore’s Chris Davis heading into Monday night’s Home Run Derby with an amazing 37 homers, Prince Fielder is still considered the favorite.
After all, the Detroit slugger is a two-time Derby champ. He won at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium last year, his first season with the Tigers, and won in 2009 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Fielder and Ken Griffey Jr. are the only players with multiple Home Run Derby crowns. Junior claimed back-to-back trophies in 1998 (Coors Field) and ’99 (Fenway Park).
Meanwhile, it could be argued that Fielder has been the best player in the majors the past two seasons. Heading into the All-Star break, he is batting .267 with 16 homers and 69 RBI.
Last year, the burly first baseman batted cleanup and protected Miguel Cabrera in the Detroit Tigers lineup. In 2011, Fielder’s final campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers and also batting fourth, he protected Ryan Braun.
With Fielder’s big bat in the on-deck circle, Cabrera and Braun would win MVP awards — Cabrera taking it a step further by capturing the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so in 1967 for the Boston Red Sox.
Last season, Fielder hit .313 with 30 homers and 108 RBI, supporting Cabrera’s .330/44/139 Triple Crown performance. The final year with Milwaukee, Fielder hit .299 with 38 dingers and 120 RBI, protecting Braun’s .332/33/111, and finished third in NL MVP voting.
And talk about durable: Fielder played the max 162 regular-season games in each of those campaigns. He’s only missed one game since the start of 2009 and played in all but 12 games from 2006 to ’08.
But that doesn’t make a Hall of Famer. It’s the statistics that do, and the son of former major leaguer Cecil Fielder is well on his way to putting up impressive numbers.
In the midst of his ninth major league season (through July 14), Fielder features a .285 career batting average with 276 homers and 833 RBI.
Among active players, Fielder ranks 21st in homers, ninth in on-base percentage (.391) and 12th in slugging percentage (.532). He’s also sixth in at-bats per home run (16.2) and ninth in intentional walks (138).
Had Fielder not left Milwaukee, he would have continued to climb the franchise’s leaderboard in several categories.
His 230 homers and .540 slugging percentage during his seven-year stint with the Brewers rank second in team history, trailing only Hall of Famer Robin Yount (251) and Braun (.565), respectively.
Plus, Fielder owns the club’s top career on-base percentage at .390, ranks first in intentional walks (115), seventh in RBI (656), eighth in total bases (1,904) and ninth in runs (571).
As for the postseason, the five-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner has played in one World Series, but was on the losing end of the San Francisco Giants’ 4-0 sweep of the Tigers last fall. He’s been to the playoffs three times, twice with the Brewers, and hit five homers with 11 RBI, but struggled with a .183 batting average in six postseason series.
Other accolades include the 2011 All-Star Game MVP — thanks to a three-run homer in one of his two at-bats of the NL’s 5-1 victory at Arizona’s Chase Field — and his two Home Run Derby titles (2012 and ’09).
Maybe someday Fielder, who turned 29 on May 9, will play the leading role when it comes to MVP voting, but at his age, it’s easy to foresee a career résumé worthy of Hall of Fame credentials.