Interpreting Scott Boras’ Comments On Prince Fielder

There’s more finesse to Scott Boras’ sales pitch than there is to Prince Fielder’s swing, but neither man holds back. In Dallas this week Boras argued that the free agent first baseman can invigorate a fan base and strengthen a lineup, invoking Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig to put Fielder’s career in context and show that comparable power hitters rarely becomes available in free agency. But Boras has compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax, so it’s prudent to take what he says in context. Here are some highlights from Boras’ conversation with reporters. I’ve added a little context when necessary:

Prince Fielder MIL

Boras on Fielder’s power:

“All of a sudden, you see who has this many home runs by the age of 27 at first base and you see Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig and the list is only four guys. Then you start looking at what accomplishments this man has had at such a young age. You go back and look and say ‘how often do you get free agents who have got that kind of power production and that on-base percentage — a .400 on-base percentage and slugging near 40 home runs.’ When you start to analyze, you realize we certainly have a decade player.”

The context:

In fact, just three first basemen have had this many home runs (230) through their age-27 season: Fielder, Foxx and Albert Pujols. Fielder-level production is rare, even at a power position.

Foxx had 302 home runs and a career .339/.440/.640 line through his age-27 season (174 OPS+). Gehrig had 187 home runs and a career .342/.443/.639 line through his age-27 season (179 OPS+). Both had their names engraved on MVP trophies by that point. Fielder, who doesn't have an MVP to his name despite three top-five finishes, has 230 home runs with a .282/.390/.540 line in his career (143 OPS+). Foxx and Gehrig were more dominant relative to the competition, but Boras didn't say Fielder was better than the two Hall of Famers. He said his client compares well to them from a home run standpoint, which is true.

Boras on Fielder’s body:

“Everyone talks to me about Prince’s body, but when you have that 5’11” strike zone, that is a huge advantage and that’s why that on-base percentage is sitting there. Those pitchers have to put the ball into a smaller window and I believe that it’s more difficult to do.”

The context: 

Though the small strike zone may help Fielder, it remains possible that his weight will prevent him from aging well. Fielder is now a passable first baseman, but his defense will decline over the life of his next contract. At some point he’ll presumably become a DH, which may create hesitation on the part of National League suitors.

Boras on Fielder’s age

“The great thing about young free agents is the probability of performance not dropping off is so high for the majority of the years of the contract. We’re not talking about signing a 32-year-old free agent.”

The context:

There’s no question that Fielder’s youth makes him attractive. Pujols, a 31-year-old, managed to obtain a ten-year deal, so Fielder figures to obtain multiple offers in the eight to ten-year range as well. 

Boras on the possibility of a short-term deal:

“To attract players to a franchise, you’re going to want that [star] player there for a long time. You don’t want people to know the time is coming for him to leave. People say ‘why don’t you do a three-year deal?’ That doesn’t fit anybody’s purposes. The length of contract has a lot to do with an understanding from both sides of what franchise players are and what they mean. The branding part, the media rights part — all of those things go into that and while the initial concept is shorter is better, the reality is with these types of players it’s usually not the best dynamic for the franchise.”

The context:

Here’s a rough translation: dream away, but a short-term deal is not happening.

Boras on the availability of other young power bats:

“Let’s project: ‘what under 28 players are coming?’ Then all of a sudden you see [Joey] Votto will be 30 or 29 and you start paring it down. [Miguel] Cabrera was one of them, but he never made it to free agency. So you look inside the game at the younger core that’s coming and you’d say ‘there’s no one.’ You’re going to have to hit 50 home runs in your second year or 44 home runs in your fourth year. You’re going to have to average 37 home runs in this period of time. Who’s going to do that?”

The context:

Mike Stanton and Boras client Bryce Harper are two powerful, young players who will likely hit free agency in their mid-twenties if they don’t sign extensions first. Other teams have to develop power themselves or rely on older free agents. Boras has a point here.

Boras on Fielder’s prime:

“When you’re talking about premium years by management, you think ‘well premium years are usually this 27-36.’ But when you’ve got a guy who has performed from 22 to 26 over that five-year period, he has more home runs in that five years than Albert Pujols. He has Albert Pujols-type numbers and those aren’t even his premium years yet. And Albert Pujols is the best hitter we’ve seen since [Barry] Bonds. So when you see that you realize people come in to the market — and you can’t expect every team to be prepared to the level that we are — but we really want to point out that no matter what type of club you are, when you acquire this for your fan base, you’re definitely going to have something that not only is a rarity in the game currently, because he’s so young, you can project five years ahead and he’ll be 32. Normally when someone’s a free agent, you’re not getting that level of prime years.”

The context:

Will Fielder’s prime extend into his mid-thirties? It’s doubtful. Few players in the post-steroid era manage to produce as late into their careers as Bonds did. Boras suggests Fielder’s prime will extend until he’s 36, but that surely exceeds most teams’ estimates by at least a few years.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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70 Comments on "Interpreting Scott Boras’ Comments On Prince Fielder"


Member
3 years 6 months ago

It is just stunning how this man compares Fielder (who is a very good player dont get me wrong) with some of the all time greats with a straight face. Jimmie Foxx? Fine, I can live with that. But putting Fielder and Lou Gehrig in the same sentence is outrageous.

Member
Bob George
3 years 6 months ago

Jimmie Foxx was also an amazing player, but not as well known by today’s fans as any Yankee player. Go look up Foxx’s stats, they are mind boggling. So are one of his teammates, Al Simmons. Foxx and Simmons were two of the greatest hitters who ever lived.

Foxx had 3 seasons of 163 or more RBI, and retired with a .609 slg percentage. Foxx played through age 37, with many seasons declining from his peak years. Fielder’s career slg is .540. Putting Fielder and Jimmie Foxx in the same sentence is outrageous, at least at this point of Fielder’s career.

Simmons had 100 rbi just in home games two different seasons, the only player in history to do that. He hit .381 or better 4 times.

Baseball is full of fascinating players. Just reading up on some of the greats that came before my time is enough to fall in love with the game all over again.

Member
3 years 6 months ago

Oh no I totally agree Jimmie Foxx was amazing. But Gehrig is immortal. Everyone knows him. Some casual baseball fans might not even know who Jimmie Foxx is. Statistically its not even a comparison between Fielder and Foxx

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

And that leaves out Ty Cobb, who only managed to bat .366 over the course of his career — which lasted until he was 41, a total of 24 years! Cobb didn’t hit a lot of home runs (a dead-ball period player) but that shouldn’t disqualify him from being called the greatest hitter in the history of the game.

Member
3 years 6 months ago

Ted Williams gets my vote. Of course there is no one right answer. Although I wonder how people like Babe Ruth would be today in the modern game. Would he still be a god or more of like Carlos Pena

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

Right, you can’t control all of the variables, so it’s an endless debate. The parks were different, the grass was different, the ball was different — even the distance between the mound and home plate was different. Relief pitching was hardly used. Mostly to the advantage of hitters. Cobb impresses me because of his durability and consistency. He was also a demon on the base paths.

Member
3 years 6 months ago

Ted Williams gets my vote. Of course there is no one right answer. Although I wonder how people like Babe Ruth would be today in the modern game. Would he still be a god or more of like Carlos Pena

Member
FS54
3 years 6 months ago

If I am not mistaken, Cobb was considered a better hitter than Ruth by many of their contemporaries. Cobb may not have been a power hitter (actually there are couple of statistical papers that argue he was a power hitter), but he was more complete hitter and player than Ruth. Ruth dominated slugging like no one else, but Cobb dominated hitting like no one else before.

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

… or after.

Member
3 years 6 months ago

Simmons was a Milwaukee native and is buried here.  Not that it matters, but a slight connection nonetheless.

Member
gradylittle
3 years 6 months ago

For GM’s, Boras must be THAT guy that no one wants to speak to or deal with.

Member
aricollins
3 years 6 months ago

The fact that primes (especially for big men) don’t extend into their mid-30s is indeed a blow to the idea that signing him to an 8-year contract means he’ll still be in his prime for the whole deal.

But it does highlight the fact that you so rarely get a star player for the actual prime years, which are 26-29. Pretty unique opportunity with Fielder, so that he’s worth giving a 6- to 8-year contract to. You know you’ll be overpaying for his decline phase, but you’ll be underpaying for his prime years, years you never get out of a star player unless you develop them.

Member
Nate Petrashek
3 years 6 months ago

I love listening to Boras talk.  His statements so often just reek of hyperbole and desperation. And in light of the Lozano allegations, I think I should change my career track.  It certainly doesn’t look like a bad time for someone who’d play it straight with players and GMs to enter the fray.

Guest
3 years 6 months ago

If you play it staright with players and GMs you’ll never be an agent at all.

Member
Nate Petrashek
3 years 6 months ago

Why not?  An agent’s duty to his client is to act in the client’s best interests.  You can still work hard for your client and get him a good deal without all the head games.  Its just a different approach, and one I think GMs and some players would find refreshing. 

And if indeed the players would rather have the hookers, they’d certainly be free to look up Lozano.

Member
Nate Petrashek
3 years 6 months ago

Why not?  An agent’s duty to his client is to act in the client’s best interests.  You can still work hard for your client and get him a good deal without all the head games.  Its just a different approach, and one I think GMs and some players would find refreshing. 

And if indeed the players would rather have the hookers, they’d certainly be free to look up Lozano.

Member
Cavman_Boland
3 years 6 months ago

Really? I think the guy is an absolute beauty. He knows how to make his case and make a convincing argument a lot like a politician. The contracts he’s gotten for clients speaks for themselves. Man I wish I was an agent.

Member
Okteds
3 years 6 months ago

Except it’s not a convincing argument.  This whole thread, article and comments included, have highlighted how ridiculous and off-base his arguments are. Not one person here takes him with any seriousness….hmmm, maybe you’re right, he is a lot like a politician.  But please let’s not feed into this idiocy by call his arguments “convincing”.

Member
Nate Petrashek
3 years 6 months ago

The part that shocks me is that he still gets clubs to bite on his public displays of ignorance; all you need is one dumb GM to make Boras look like a genius.  I wish we’d stop confusing the idiocy of one for the competence of another.

Member
Liam_Ho
3 years 6 months ago

Because Boras is the last shop open during offseason, when teams get desperate they’ll pay close enough to what he wants.

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

I wish I could be as desperate as Scott Boras.

Member
Okteds
3 years 6 months ago

or as shameless…

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

Boras is a salesman, first and foremost. Shame and salesmanship are like oil and water.

Member
BlueSkyLA
3 years 6 months ago

I wish I could be as desperate as Scott Boras.

Member
notsureifsrs
3 years 6 months ago

i only read ben’s parts. strict ignore-boras policy. i recommend it to all GMs