Blog Entry

Much more to Thome than home runs

Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:40 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 8:36 am
 
By Matt Snyder

Monday night, to far less fanfare than he deserved, Jim Thome hit the 599th and 600th home runs of his career. When someone achieves a milestone in sports these days -- the days of social media where every fan in the world gets an anonymous voice with which to tear people down for kicks -- the conversation nearly immediately turns to the big picture. Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

Honestly, I don't even understand how it's a discussion. The best possible outcome a hitter can achieve for his team at the plate is a home run. Only seven men have ever done that more than Jim Thome in the history of baseball. Period. End of discussion, right? Nope, there are still dissenters. The most common has something to do with Thome being a "one-dimensional" player, which is usually packaged with an attack on him being a designated hitter.

On the DH argument, one can't convince the people who believe DHs don't count, so it's not even worth trying. Nevermind that starting pitchers don't complete every game or relief pitchers are specialized. No, if he only bats, there's a certain segment of the fan community that utterly refuses to recognize a DH as a player. So we'll get past that.

As far as Thome being one-dimensional, that is completely false. Yes, he has power and that's the only reason he's still playing at age 40. Honestly, even if he is one-dimensional, I don't understand why it's bad. It's not like his one-dimension is he has a great throwing arm yet can't field. Or he's really fast yet can't get on base. His power is the best possible dimension you can have as a baseball player. You can score one run -- or more -- on one swing. Monday night he drove home five runs in two swings and the Twins won by three. No other aspect of a baseball player can do that. It's just that Thome is more than just home runs.

Look at Thome's on-base percentage. He has 2,263 hits and 1,710 walks. Add in the 68 times he's been hit with a pitch, and Thome has reached base over 4,000 times in his career, good for 42nd all-time. As Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted Monday night, only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have a higher on-base percentage in the 600 home run club than Thome. He has 440 career doubles, too.

Only 16 players in baseball history have a better OPS. If you aren't familiar with OPS, here's the top five of all-time, for a point of reference: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols.

And let's not forget Thome's personality. You can scoff if you want, but the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically tells voters to consider integrity and character. When Thome hit his 600th home run Monday night, the response on Twitter was overwhelming. From former teammates to long-time opponents to baseball writers to opposing managers to fans, the message was the same: There is no one in baseball nicer or a better person than Thome. An All-Star from the opposite dugout echoed the sentiment Monday night. One writer said he has never, ever heard a bad thing about Thome. And Thome's been in baseball for 21 years. That's pretty difficult to do, even for the best guys in the game. If you want hardware, Thome won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2002 (for sportsmanship) and the Lou Gehrig Award (for character and integrity both on and off the field) in 2004.

One argument I've heard against Thome's Hall candidacy is his lack of MVP pedigree, as he only finished in the top five once and the top 10 four times. My response to this is that he was playing clean in the PED era during his entire prime. You want an example? Click here and look at the numbers in the 2002 AL MVP voting, in which Thome finished seventh. He hit .304 with 52 home runs, 118 RBI, 101 runs and a 1.122 OPS and finished seventh.

A one-dimensional player who "only hits home runs" is Wily Mo Pena or Rob Deer. Maybe you wanna go back to Dave Kingman. That's fine, too. Just do not paint Jim Thome with that brush. He is much better than that and deserves better. He's a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.

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Comments
peulouy
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:28 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

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Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:26 pm
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

The problem I have is in the record books and the records that have been broke by players that we know have cheated because they used PEDs.
I would bet my life on it that Hank Aaron and Roger Maris never used PEDs. So to have those records broken by players that have used PEDs is very wrong. They put a asterisk next to Roger Maris when he broke Babe Ruth's record because he played in more games so why cant they at least put one next to Barry Bonds since they wont take him out of the record books. This set's a very bad example to kid's now a days which is completely wrong. 

 




Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: August 16, 2011 10:00 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

Don't say that he did it clean.  You don't know that.  He never got caught, but do you honestly believe that we've caught everyone who has used PEDs? 

No, I'm not holding that against him.  I still think he should be in, but to assume that he did it clean is simply naiive.  I think that we have to assume that everyone in the PED era might have used, therefore should not be a qualifier or disqualifier for the HOF. 



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:27 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

Your statement is 100% true. Aaron, Mays, Ruth,Thome, and JR deserve to be above the rest as these players never cheated.
They also played for the love of the game. The others ( Sosa, Bonds,McGwire, and A Rod ) do not deserve to own any Major League Baseball record and they all thought they were bigger than the game itself.



Since: Nov 27, 2010
Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:58 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

We call him "Jim-Bob" in our house, and he's still my favorite player.
He's obviously still a Tribe fan too... Thanks for crushing them against the Tigers!
Don't forget he came into the league at 3rd base, and then learned how to play a good 1st base.
Way to go, Jim-Bob!!     




Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:15 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

As I life long Tribe fan I have always admired this man.  He is gracious both on and off of the field.  I truelly believe that there is not a nicer man in all of Baseball.  As far as the DH arguement, I watched many games with Mr Thome playing a very good both 1st and 3rd base.  He was a staple of the quality Tribe teams of the early 90's.

He was an all around player and a clubhouse leader at a young age.  He has continued to due what has been asked of him and to contribute in so many ways to his teams and communities.

First Ballot HOF in my opinion!



Since: Sep 1, 2009
Posted on: August 16, 2011 4:34 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

Thome has been a class act, a credit to the game.

He's the goods and deserves a spot in the HOF on the first ballot. 



Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: August 16, 2011 3:14 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

A hard nosed throw back player who did it the right way.  From a Illinois working class family, that instilled a work ethic that has made him one of the most feared hitters of his generation, he has been the epitome of what this game should be about and not always is. With major embarrassments such as Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and A-roid, he has represented the game with integrity and class, much in the same way as one of his contemporaries, Ken Griffey Jr., another all-time great.  If the baseball writers don't make him a first ballot HOFer, then we'll know the system is truly broken.  Congratulation Jim, a gentlemen, a warrior, and an all around class act.  I hope you continue to grace this game with your presence.    &n
bsp;



Since: Oct 17, 2009
Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:20 am
 

Much more to Thome than home runs

The greatest power hitter of his generation.  YOU will not see an astrick by his name. Besides being a class act he did it the right way.  During the era of steriods, performance enhancing drugs and HGH Thome showed you can reach the top without cheating.  I wonder how many MVPs he would have won had the CHEATERS not been in the discussion.  Not only is Thome a Surefire Hall of Famer but a FIRST BALLOT HOFer.

Though a diehard Oriole fan I have always admire Jim Thome.  I hope get plays another year or two.


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