Stats & Info: Dmitri Young

Six things to know about Opening Day

March, 31, 2011
The first six of the 2,430 scheduled MLB games this season will be played on Thursday. Here’s one thing you need to know about each:

Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees, 1 ET on ESPN
The Yankees have won the last 10 times they have played an Opening Day game at home. Their last loss was in 1982 vs the Chicago White Sox, when Ron LeFlore’s single in the top of the 12th provided Chicago’s margin of victory. The only team in MLB history to have a longer win streak in Opening Day games played at home is the New York Mets 11-game streak from 1971-89.

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals, 1:05 ET
Hopefully the Nationals pitching staff has an easier time with the Braves lineup than the Chicago Cubs did on Opening Day last season. Atlanta blasted the Cubs 16-5 on Opening Day last year behind five RBI from Yunel Escobar and four from Jason Heyward. The Braves 16 runs tied the most scored by a team on Opening Day over the last 30 seasons.

Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds, 2:10 ET
Which team will draw first blood in what could be the most competitive division in the majors in 2011? AccuScore ran 10,000 computer simulations of the 2011 season, with the Reds coming out on top of the NL Central 37.7% of the time. But Cincinnati just edged out the Cardinals (29.2%) and Brewers (26.1%) in the only division that had three different teams win the division in more than 25% of simulations.

Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals, 4:10 ET
The Royals will look to get 2011 started on the right foot against the Angels, but history is not on Kansas City’s side. Among current MLB franchises, the Royals have the worst winning percentage on Opening Day (35.7%) of any club. Kansas City is 15-27 all-time in its first game of the season.

Albert Pujols
San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals, 4 ET on ESPN
Will Albert Pujols again own Opening Day? Last year against the Reds, Pujols homered twice, recorded four hits and scored four runs in the Cardinals 11-6 win on Opening Day. He became the third player in MLB history with two HR, four hits and four runs in a team’s opener, joining Dmitri Young (2005) and Xavier Nady (2008). Pujols is one of seven players in the live-ball era (since 1920) with two games with two home runs on Opening Day. The others are Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Mathews, Raul Mondesi, Xavier Nady and Joe Torre.

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers, 8 ET on ESPN
The Giants road to a repeat starts tonight in Los Angeles. The odds are against San Francisco. Only three NL teams have repeated as World Series champions, and just one in the last 85 years (1975-76 Reds). The Giants won the World Series in 7.6% of AccuScore’s simulations of the 2011 season, trailing only the Phillies (15.7%), Red Sox (10.7%) and Rangers (8.0).

FanGraphs: Prince Fielder poses a risk

March, 5, 2010
Prince Fielder is a big dude. In fact, according to Baseball, he is the only position player in baseball history to weigh over 250 pounds while measuring under six feet tall (he's listed at 5-foot-11, 270). Fielder puts his size to good use, though. Over the past three seasons he has hit 130 home runs, second among all major leaguers. It's no surprise that many Milwaukee Brewers fans dread the 2011-2012 offseason, when Fielder will reach the six years of service time required to hit free agency.

Last winter, Mark Teixeira signed an eight-year, $180 million contract, and he’s not a significantly better hitter than Fielder. But, considering the risks a multi-year deal poses, teams may consider Fielder's weight a deterrent. Only 14 position players in baseball history have weighed more than 260 pounds, and all of them have at least a few inches on Fielder. This leaves us with few players for comparison in terms of body mass.

The two best comparables on the list are Carlos Lee and Dmitri Young. Lee hasn't faced many weight-related issues, and in fact has remained healthy for most of his career. The only significant time he missed over the past seven years was the result of a Bronson Arroyo pitch that broke his pinky finger in 2008. Young provides a more cautionary tale. Baseball America's No. 29 overall prospect in 1997, he started his career strong, hitting 72 home runs and 157 doubles in his first five MLB seasons. He posted inconsistent numbers over the next seven seasons and was out of baseball at 34.

Two other names stand out as comparables. Mo Vaughn struggled during his first two years in the league, but broke out at age 25 and became one of the league's premier sluggers. By age 31 his performance was in decline, and he missed all of his age-33 season to injuries, before finding himself out of the game by 35. Prince's father, Cecil Fielder, was also out of baseball by age 35.

Prince will be 27 in the first year of his new deal. Chances are, if he continues to produce, some team will take the risk that he can buck the odds and remain a marquee attraction deep into his 30s.

Joe Pawlikowski is an author of FanGraphs.