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.