Scott Boras is right to compare Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira

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Yesterday agent Scott Boras compared impending free agent Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira, a fellow client and slugging first baseman who got an eight-year, $180 million contract from the Yankees as a free agent two offseasons ago.
Boras did his usual hyperbolic thing, talking up Fielder as a future Hall of Famer and suggesting 20 teams would be willing to take Teixeira’s contract off the Yankees’ hands. He also once compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax, so clearly anything he says should be taken with Fielder-sized grains of salt.
However, the Teixeira-Fielder comparison is actually a pretty reasonable one. First, here’s a look at how Fielder’s career numbers right now compare to Teixeira’s career numbers at the time of his free agency:

CAREER           G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       904     3931     .290     .378     .541     134
Fielder        764     3201     .281     .383     .544     141

Fielder has played fewer games, but he’ll close that gap somewhat during the second half and in terms of all-around offensive production he has a slight edge over Teixeira in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and adjusted OPS+. Also of note is that Fielder will be 27 years old when he hits the open market, whereas Teixeira was 29.
Of course, career numbers don’t necessarily tell an accurate story, so let’s focus on what Fielder has done in the past three seasons compared to what Teixeira did in the three seasons before his free agency:

THREE YEARS      G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       451     1987     .298     .393     .541     141
Fielder        410     1810     .283     .394     .542     148

Basically identical numbers, with Fielder holding a very slight edge. And finally, here’s a look at what Fielder has done this season compared to what Teixeira did in the season before his free agency:

PAST YEAR        G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       157      685     .308     .410     .552     152
Fielder         89      397     .265     .401     .494     142

Teixeira finally tops Fielder here, although it’s worth noting that since getting off to a very slow start Fielder has hit .278/.413/.557 with 18 homers in the past 64 games.
Based strictly on their hitting Fielder has been slightly better than Teixeira was prior to his free agency and he’s also two years younger, which is significant. On the other hand, the scale tips back in Teixeira’s favor when it comes to defense and body type. Teixeira’s edge defensively is at least as big as Fielder’s edge offensively, and obviously there are all kinds of questions about how well Fielder will age at his weight.
I don’t think Fielder will come close to getting $180 million on the open market, in part because the baseball economy has changed since Teixeira signed his deal and in part because he likely won’t have the Yankees bidding for his services. With that said, for once a Boras comparison is actually pretty reasonable.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.