Laying out the case for Jim Thome's enshrinement into Cooperstown is as simple as spelling his first name: he finished his career with 612 home runs and zero scandals.

Though Thome was a first baseman-slash-DH who played during the Steroid Era, he was never implicated or accused of doping or wrongdoing. Rather, he remained liked (perhaps beloved) throughout his 22-year career. Thome is predictably polling well, his name appearing on more than 90 percent of the ballots, all but ensuring he'll be giving a speech later this year.

So much of our Hall of Fame coverage has been about providing possible cases for fringe candidates. Here, with Thome's election a fait accompli, let's flip that and showcase the strength of his candidacy by trying to build an argument against him. Spoiler: it's nearly impossible to do.

Here's our best try.

A common sight during Thome's career. Focus On Sport / Getty Images


This is the closest there is to a layup -- even then, it's unconvincing.

Thome broke into the majors as a third baseman, and remained saddled at the hot corner until his age-26 season. From that point forward, he was almost exclusively used at first base and DH. The last 10 seasons of his career saw him appear at first base just eight times. That Thome finished with nearly 300 more appearances at first base than DH helped him earn the same benefit of the doubt afforded to Frank Thomas (and avoid any of the arguments forged against Edgar Martinez).

Of course, Thome's poor defensive numbers and overall positional value are baked into his Wins Above Replacement -- the same metric suggesting he accumulated more value during his career than the average first baseman already in the Hall of Fame. So, yeah, not much here.

Individual accomplishments

The extent of Thome's awards haul is a Silver Slugger Award that he won as a third baseman. He did make five All-Star Games, however, and earned MVP votes nine times (though he finished higher than fifth just once).

Thome doesn't fare much better when it comes to being a league leader. He bested the NL in home runs in 2003, and topped the AL in OPS and slugging percentage in 2002. Baseball Reference tracks Black Ink (how often a player leads an important statistical category) and Gray Ink (how often they finish near the top) and Thome checked in with figures of 13 and 118 -- the average Hall of Famer has marks of 27 and 144.

Alas, it's hard to hold those numbers against Thome, seeing as how he had fantastic overall numbers -- and, at most, it shows how crazy the offensive environment was during his career.


Similar to the previous argument, in that Thome finished slightly below the average Hall of Fame first baseman's seven-year peak -- and we do mean slightly below, to the tune of less than a win. We may be reaching for arguments against Thome, but this is splitting hairs.


There's a reason Thome is earning more than 90 percent of the votes: it's basically impossible to construct a meaningful argument against him. You can take liberties here or there, but the big takeaway is that Thome is a deserving Hall of Famer, whether you look at the case for him or try to build a case against him.