Fielder or Canseco? Cecil or Jose? Even with Canseco's injuries, comparing the two has been the parlor game of this baseball summer. Who, if you're a pitcher, would you rather face? Is the chiseled Canseco, snapping open his switchblade of a bat, a more fearsome sight standing 60 feet six inches away than the massive Fielder, who appears to have had a Chrysler air bag detonated in the seat of his pants? "I'd least like to face Cecil," says Toronto relief stud Tom Henke. "He's a little bit better hitter all the way around."
"I think Canseco is probably a little bit tougher," says Baltimore Oriole starter Dave Johnson, who was leading the majors with 26 homers allowed when he went on the disabled list in August.
We will leave it to Boston's Mike Boddicker to break the tie. "I fear Mark McGwire the most," he says. "He hits the breaking pitch so well, and that's my featured pitch."
Big as the 6'3" Fielder is—he's officially listed at 230 pounds, meaning he had his big toe on the floor at the last weigh-in—he could use some protection. In the Tiger lineup he bats fourth. "We have got to get a No. 5 hitter," says Anderson. "Cecil would have up to five more homers and 15 more RBIs [he had a major league-leading 120 as of Sunday] with a solid guy there."
Then again, as McGriff points out, "You've got to have guys in front of you getting on base so nobody pitches around you. Look at [ Detroit shortstop Alan] Trammell. He's hitting in front of Cecil and getting on base a lot." Moseby usually bats fifth for the Tigers, and while his best power days are behind him, things could be worse. Says Fielder, "The guy hitting behind me in Japan had one home run. I could take someone out of the yard once, but the next time up it was going to be a lit-tie more difficult."
In Tiger Stadium, leaving the yard is much easier for a lefthanded hitter. When the righthanded Fielder went up on the roof on Aug. 25, it marked only the third time in the 90-year history of the park that a home run had exited the stadium over the leftfield roof (Killebrew in 1962 and Howard in '68 hit the other two). The rightfield roof, on the other hand, has been cleared 22 times.
The expansive Oakland Coliseum has no roof, and if there were one, no souvenirs would land there. "I lose 10 to 15 home runs a year playing in this park," says Canseco. And what if he played in Wrigley Field? "In Wrigley I'd hit 50, in a slump, before the All-Star break."
For his part, McGwire has the highest percentage of home runs per at bat on the road of any player in the history of the game. That, by the way, is news to McGwire, who appears mildly distressed by the fact. "Stats," he says, "have taken over this game." Which reminds us: Through Sunday, Fielder had homered once every 11.1 at bats this season, Canseco once every 12.3, McGwire once every 13.1 and McGriff once every 14.6.
"The most important thing about Cecil is that he's nicer than he is big," says Bergman. "If my son could grow up to be Cecil Fielder, I'd be happy. He's a very humble man, a very mature man."