Someday soon Jim Thome will hit home run No. 600, and the doors to the Hall of Fame will open wide ... unless they close on his nose, breaking his beak like this poor dude here.
I'm not here to say Jim Thome won't get into the Hall. But I'm not here to say he will, either. I guess I'm here to say that I have no idea, which is fairly damning in and of itself, given that he's about to become just the eighth member of the 600-HR club. That's no-brainer Hall status.
Hell, the 500-HR club is no-brainer Hall status, or it used to be -- when voters were sure the player was clean.
And Thome fits that bill.
While it's true his biggest HR years were in the steroid heyday, it's not his fault that he hit his prime -- ages 26-33 -- in the years 1997-2004. And his career HR totals look totally legitimate, following a normal curve.
There was no magical Mark McGwire peak, is what I'm saying.
Point being, Thome looks clean, has never been linked to steroids, and is about to hit No. 600. Usually, those are first-ballot credentials.
But still I'm not sure on Thome. He has accumulated great statistics from very goodness, if not greatness. He's the offensive version of Bert Blyleven, who is fifth all-time in strikeouts but was so very good -- not great -- that he made the All-Star team just twice in 22 years.
Then again, Blyleven will be inducted in the Hall on Sunday -- after 13 years on the ballot.
Back to Thome, who was never the best player in his league, or even one of the three best players in his league. He finished in the top five in MVP voting just once (fourth in 2003), and in the top 10 just three other times. While it's true he has played premium positions -- mostly first base and DH -- he made the All-Star team just five times.
Hell, Harold Baines went six times. So did Sandy Alomar. You see Cooperstown in their future? Of course not.
Back to Thome ...
Other than his 600 home runs, his most lasting place in baseball lore will be for his strikeouts. He's second all-time, 161 whiffs behind Reggie Jackson.
Along with his home runs, Thome's best argument for the Hall lies in the categories of on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. While he has finished in the top 10 in RBI just three times in his 21-year career, he has been in the top 10 in OBP, slugging and OPS ten times each. His career OPS of .960 is 17th all-time.
So now that I think about it, yes, Jim Thome will make it into the Hall of Fame. Old-school voters will love his home runs. Newer-era guys will love those, plus the OPS. And he's a great guy to boot. So he gets in, says me.