Introducing… Cecil Fielder

The Greek God of Girth, Cecil Fielder was a seldom used power bat off the bench until his sojourn to Japan.  When he returned from Japan, Cecil became the Major League’s top slugger and RBI man.  What they fed him in Japan must have done the trick as the Blue Jays one-time bopper off the bench became the AL’s greatest slugger since Roger Maris.

Originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals, KC sent Fielder to Toronto for veteran outfielder Leon Roberts in 1983.  The Blue Jays were a strong team in the mid 1980s when they called up Fielder.  They already had a more limber man entrenched at first in Willie Upshaw and skipper Jimy Williams had to give DH at-bats to guys like Cliff Johnson, George Bell, Rick Leach and Kelly Gruber.  Needless to say, Cecil was lost in the shuffle.

The seldom used slugger gave folks a taste of what was to come in 1987 when he blasted 14 long balls in just 175 at-bats.  Toronto was hoping for the same power output the following year but Cecil struggled and was passed on the depth chart by Fred McGriff.  The Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League bought Cecil’s contract just before Christmas of ’88 and Fielder spent the 1989 season in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Once back in America, Fielder established himself as a superior slugger with the Tigers of Detroit.  In 1990, Cecil became the first American League player since Maris in ’61 to launch 50 homers in a single season.  The big man led the junior circuit in homeruns, RBI, slugging average and total bases.  Named to the first of three All-Star teams, Cecil won the Silver Slugger Award for first basemen and narrowly missed the MVP Award to Rickey Henderson.

Many thought that Fielder’s 1990 season was a fluke but he did more of the same in 1991.  He again led the American League in homeruns and RBI, was an All-Star, won the Silver Slugger Award and finished second in MVP voting.  The Tigers were a rather poor team and they finished in sixth place during the 1992 season.  After two years of driving in runs at an amazing clip, Fielder kept it up with a terrible cast around him by leading the league with 124 RBI in ’92.  If the Tigers had anything, they had power.  Cecil teamed with Mickey Tettleton and Rob Deer to give Detroit three 30 homerun hitters.

Cecil made his last All-Star team in 1993 when he socked 30 homers and posted his fourth straight 100+ RBI season.  Beginning with his monster year in 1990, Cecil’s homerun and RBI total steadily fell every year until 1995.  That season he clubbed 31 long balls but his RBI total fell to 82.  He ratcheted up his RBIs in 1996 after a trade to the Yankees when he drove in a combined 117 runs between Detroit and the Bronx Bombers.  The Yankees went to the postseason and Fielder hit .364 in the Division Series.  His eight RBI in the ALCS topped all participants but the Yankees failed to win and Cecil watched the World Series from home.

Injured for a portion of the 1997 season, Fielder was able to play in the postseason, but he struggled in a Division Series loss to the Indians–his last postseason action.  He signed a free agent deal with the Angels in 1998 and played one final season with Anaheim and the Cleveland Indians before calling it a career.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,470/R 744/H 1,313/2B 200/3B 7/HR 319/RBI 1,008/SB 2/BB 693/SO 1,316/BA .255/SA .482/OBP .345

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Guys like Cecil, who had a four-year run of brilliance, aren’t what I’d call HOF caliber players. A HOFer should sustain his excellence over a career and not excel for 35-40% of his playing days. Although Fielder was the top homerun threat of the early 1990s, his short-lived stardom is what plays against him. Fielder won’t make the HOF.

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