From time to time I play this game to see just how keen your wits are when it comes to identifying players based solely on their numbers and accomplishments. Let’s see how long it takes you to guess who the player is this time.
* I’ve made five All-Star teams.
* I’ve never won the MVP award, but I’ve finished in the top-7 in voting on four different occasions.
* I get on base with the best of them. I own a career OBP of .404, the 49th best mark in league history, and I’ve been a top-10 finisher in the category on 10 occasions. To compare, Adam Dunn has never bettered a .400 mark (2002) despite owning a career mark of .382.
* I’m a fair power hitter as well having finished with a top-10 slugging percentage 10 times. My season best mark is .677 – a mark that led the AL in 2002. My career SLG is .556 which places me 23rd all-time. Only once has Jason Bay bettered that mark (.559 in 2005).
* Because of my ability to get on base and to drive the ball deep, I’ve always been a tremendous OPS option. Five times I’ve posted a mark above a grand, and I’m sporting a career mark of .960. Only once in his career has David Wright bettered that mark (.963 in 2007).
* I’ve gotten on base so many times that I’m one run from 1,500 in my career. I’ve also pounded the ball enough to record 1,584 RBI meaning I will soon become the 34th player in big league history with 1,500 runs and 1,500 RBI in a career.
* This last one may give me away. I’ve hit 570 home runs in my career, the 11th best mark in baseball history. I’m also fourth all-time in homers by a left-handed batter. Considering the questions surrounding Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, some might argue that I’m one of the top five or so home run hitters in big league history. I’ve also been very consistent with at least 30 homers in 9-straight season (1996-2004). After an injured induced dip to seven in 2004, I then went on to hit at least 34 in each of the next three seasons meaning that for 12-straight healthy seasons I never once failed to go deep 30 times.
Who am I?
I’m the Twins’ Jim Thome.
Does Thome deserve to be in the HOF given those qualifications? Here are some thoughts on the subject.
(1) As I mentioned above, no one has ever connected Thome’s name to performance enhancing drugs. He’s country hardball strong, and as such there has never been a reason to think he needed steroids to help him to power the ball into the bleachers. It would be pretty tough to keep him out of the Hall if he ends his career with nearly 600 homers.
(2) Thome is viewed by many as a DH, though that negates his work in the field entirely. In 2,333 career games Thome has appeared at first base 1,102 times, and 492 times at third base (yes he played third at the start of his career). All told, he’s been on the field using his glove more than 68 percent of the time. Clearly the designated hitter role has helped to prolong his career, but less than a third of the time he has only been a hitter and not a fielder (I gave my thoughts on whether or not the designated hitter should be considered for Cooperstown in Is There Room for a DH?).
(3) it’s not exactly scientific to merely compare numbers without context, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Let’s compare this slugging lefty to another who is already in the Hall of Fame in Reggie Jackson. Here is each players performance per 162 games.
J.Thome:.277-40-110-104-1 with a .960 OPS
Jackson: .262-32-98-89-13 with a .846 OPS
Pretty shocking how much better Thome’s numbers are isn’t it?
I mentioned McGwire earlier in this piece, so why don’t we compare him to Thome given that both hitters were very similar in their approach and talents.
J.Thome: .277-40-110-104-1 with a .960 OPS
McGwire: .263-50-122-101-1 with a .982 OPS
Pretty darn close eh? By the way, you can read more about my thoughts on McGwire in HOF: Mammoth McGwire Misunderstood?
So should Jim Thome get more respect than he usually does? Unequivocally the answer is yes. Should he be elected to the HOF? Based on the numbers he has produced I can’t see how one could make a valid argument that he doesn’t belong in the Hall.