When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a megadeal last week, Detroit manager Jim Leyland inherited quite the dilemma. With a slugger in Miguel Cabrera already on the roster, the manager has been forced to figure out his No. 3 and No. 4 hitters.
While Leyland is likely to slot Cabrera in the three-hole and Fielder at cleanup, he can't go wrong either way. The quandary is a manager's dream, considering the duo's penchant for power and precision hitting.
Last season, Fielder — who finished third in the NL MVP voting — clobbered 38 homers, 120 RBIs and posted a .981 OBP. Cabrera wasn't far off his counterpart's pace in 2011, slamming 30 homers, 105 RBIs and recording a 1.024 OBP.
The impressive numbers raise the question: Can Cabrera and Fielder form the top tandem in baseball? Offensively, they certainly have the potential. All-around, however, it's a toss up.
Using the sabermetric statistic WAR (Wins Above Replacement) from fangraphs.com, which calculates a player's overall value to a club, it's worth comparing Cabrera and Fielder's overall contributions with other dynamic duos in 2011.
Jacoby Ellsbury (9.4 WAR) + Adrian Gonzalez (6.6 WAR) = 16.0
Prince Fielder (5.5 WAR) + Miguel Cabrera (7.3 WAR) = 12.8
Curtis Granderson (7.0 WAR) + Robinson Cano (5.6 WAR) = 12.6
Albert Pujols (5.1 WAR ) + Howie Kendrick (5.8 WAR) = 10.9
Troy Tulowitzki (6.3 WAR) + Carlos Gonzalez (4.1 WAR) = 10.4
Lance Berkman (5.0 WAR) + Matt Holliday (5.0 WAR) = 10
Josh Hamilton (4.2 WAR) + Michael Young (3.8 WAR) = 8.0
Only Ellsbury and Gonzalez stack up higher than Cabrera and Fielder when totaling victories. The Tigers' tandem, however, is a combined two years younger than Boston's twosome and is primed for a bright future.
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