The Prince of Home Runs

Last week, as the Brewers were recuperating from their let's-try-and-forget-it ten-game road trip against the Padres, Prince Fielder socked his 200th career home run off of San Diego's Tim Stauffer. It was a hard hit, no doubt blast to right-centerfield and very deservedly garnered a curtain call from the Miller Park crowd. It was a very nice moment (even if the game was later spoiled).

In light of his milestone home run, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of Fielder's most memorable home runs. And, since I also write the Tater Trot Tracker, why not look at them from that point of view? After all, Prince Fielder is one of the few big league players with a memorable home run trot. 

Before we get into the specific trots, it should be noted that Prince Fielder's average home run trot in 2010 was 22.52 seconds, which was only half a second slower than the average trot across the league. Fielder may be thought of as one of the biggest showboatters in baseball, but, when looked at by total trot time, that is very far from the truth.

Now for the milestones: 

Fielder's first career home run came on June 25, 2005, in an interleague series versus the Twins. It came only a few innings after Rickie Weeks also hit his first career home run. Sadly, the only existing video I can find of the home run does not show us Fielder's full trot (you can see it at the Brew Crew Ball Facebook page). The blast was a towering fly ball to the opposite field, landing just above the Brewers bullpen. 

On July 19, 2008, Fielder hit his 100th career home run in San Francisco. This was a monumental blast that cleared the stadium in right field. The game must not have been televised that day because the only highlight is just atrocious. It doesn't follow the ball past the wall or even show Fielder running the bases, so we can't say for sure if it was a splash hit or how long the trot was. It feels like the dark ages, but it was only three years ago.

Amazingly, Fielder has two inside-the-park home runs to his name. The first came on June 17, 2007, in Minnesota when Lew Ford lost a ninth-inning fly ball in the white of the Metrodome's roof. Fielder ran maybe the hardest he's ever run on that flyball and touched home plate 17.4 seconds after making contact. Of the eighteen inside-the-park home runs in 2010, the slowest was 16.86 seconds. (You can see a video of the inside-the-parker here.) 

Fielder's second inside-the-park home run was a year later, on June 19, 2008. This one came about when Toronto rightfielder Alex Rios failed to pick up the ball after it had stuck under the Miller Park padding. Rios was hoping it was a ground rule double but, when the umpire never made a call, Fielder kept running. Eventually, he touched home plate approximately 18.48 seconds later (the video is a bit unclear). Somehow, Prince Fielder had managed two inside-the-park home runs in his first 100 homers. 

The 150th and 200th career home runs have much better videos available with them. His 200th, last week, came in at a brisk 20.58 seconds, nearly two full seconds quicker than his average trot. The 150th trot, on August 28, 2009, was a bit slower, though. The towering blast - easily the biggest we've seen in this list - landed at the back of the Toyota Tundra Territory, and Fielder admired it with glee. By the time he finally rounded the bases, it was 26.14 seconds after contact. This is the single slowest trot I've seen from Fielder in the last year. 

Finally, we come to the quintessential Prince Fielder trot. This was during Labor Day weekend, 2009, in the twelfth inning off of San Francisco's Merkin Valdez. In a tie game, Fielder roped a ball down the line into the field house to win the game. As he rounded first base, you could see Fielder motioning to his teammates. They came running out of the dugout to wait for him at the plate, a familiar sight after walkoff blasts. But this was different. As Fielder approached his teammates, he leaped into the air. As he landed on the plate, Fielder lifted his head and his hands into a celebratory gesture, like that of a gymnast completing his routine. His teammates, who were arranged in a semi-circle around him, fell to the ground as if blown down by a Fielder's shockwave. 

It was no doubt the single greatest celebration I had ever witnessed in a game (and I, thankfully, got to watch it from behind home plate). The trot time was a solid 21.65 seconds, but it was about so much more than that. 

I don't know how much I would appreciate Fielder's home run antics if he were on, say, the Cubs or Cardinals. I'm guessing I would find something about it all to be bothered by. Thankfully, as a Brewers fan, I can just enjoy watching one of the best power hitters in baseball and a man who really loves playing the game.

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