Thursday, April 24, 2008

About Frank Thomas

The A's signed Frank Thomas to be their designated hitter today after Thomas was released last weekend by the Blue Jays.

Thomas has more than 500 home runs, and many consider him a lock for the Hall of Fame. But his best seasons were so long ago that I feel that we've forgotten what a special player he was in his prime.

In the first version of my book, The Book of Baseball Literacy (published in 1996), I called Thomas "baseball's best all-around hitter since Ted Williams." I still believe that. Before everyone's numbers were inflated (due to steroids, ballparks, the lively ball, or whatever), Thomas was posting on-base percentages in the .450s and slugging percentages in the .600s with regularity. His sabermetric stats (runs created, OPS+, batting runs, etc.) are off-the-charts dominant. You have to examine his baseball-reference page to see for yourself

Lately he came off as immature and petulant when he resisted his benching by the Blue Jays. I think it's too late for him to rehabilitate his image, but I think he can still contribute offensively to the A's. He has been in a serious slump, but it's worth noting that he has always been a slow starter. Over his career, April has always been his cruelest month, while May and June have been his best months. At age 40, it's not going to be easy for him, but the A's fan in me is rooting for him.

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