Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, fresh off a victory in the Home Run Derby, credits his success at the plate this year to achieving his goal of being so enormous that it is essentially impossible to pitch around his girth.
"I never wanted to be one of those sluggers who has the bat taken out of his hand by scared pitchers who won’t throw him any strikes,” says Fielder. “So it has been my goal since I was a little boy to get so fat that there is no way to pitch around me. I don’t care how far inside or outside you try to throw the ball, it is still going to hit some distant roll of mine. So you’re either going to hit me or throw me a strike. There are no other options.”
Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo says he has experienced the difficulty of trying to pitch around Fielder.
“He is impossible to walk now,” said Arroyo. “Sure, you can hit him. But if you keep plunking the other team’s best player, you risk getting thrown out of the game – not to mention that your own best player might get hit. And he won’t have the same layer of protective blubber. So the only other option is to throw him a strike and watch him crush it for a home run. It’s a lose-lose.”
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright says Fielder’s strike zone is hard to hit.
“His fat extends over most of the plate – and as far as the eye can see,” said Wainwright. “But there is a small area of daylight right in the middle of the strike zone in his wheelhouse. It’s where his breasts cascade down onto his gut. That’s the bottom of the zone. The top is formed by the lower portions of his chins. If you can find a way to get it in there, you can ring up a strike. But most of the times he’ll hit strikes. Actually, it’s pretty much every time. Your only hope is if a hot dog vendor in the stands catches his eye while the ball is on its way. And then sometimes he’ll try to grab the ball out of the air hoping it’s a big marshmallow and the ump will call him for stepping into the pitch.”