Tag:Thome Watch
Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:55 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 2:02 am
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3 Up, 3 Down: Thome owned the night



By Matt Snyder


Jim Thome, Twins. What a day for one of the most respected players in baseball. Thome went 3-4 with five RBI in a Twins' 9-6 victory. Among those three hits were two home runs, meaning he now has 600 in his illustrious career. He's much more than just a home run hitter, too, so let's give him all the respect and adulation he deserves.

Mike Carp, Mariners. Don't look now, but the Mariners have a cleanup hitter. Long gone is Jack Cust and they don't have to use Adam Kennedy there anymore, either. Carp has locked down that lineup slot as he's presently on fire. The 25 year old went 2-4 with a pair of home runs Monday night, including an eighth-inning shot that tied the game at five. He's now 36-for-97 (.371) with six home runs and 26 RBI since rejoining the lineup July 19. Between Carp, Casper Wells and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners seem to have a good, young core of offensive players for the future.

Ryan Doumit, Pirates. The catcher tied a career high with four hits, as he went 4-4 with a three-run homer in a 6-2 win over the Cardinals. He's now 10-for-23 (.435) since coming off the disabled list. Considering the Pirates have fallen out of the race and at least one contending team -- the Giants -- wouldn't mind an offensive upgrade at catcher for this year, he's an intriguing name in terms of a possible trade candidate through the waivers process this month.

Bonus Up: Jason Isringhausen of the Mets recorded his 300th career save Monday night in San Diego. He's the 23rd man in baseball history to achieve the feat and only Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero among active players have more.



Brian Wilson, Giants. The Giants were all set to move within 1 1/2 games of the Diamondbacks in the NL West when Wilson coughed this one up. He was spotted a 4-2 lead, but ended up walking off the field with a 5-4 loss. Three singles and two walks amounted to three earned runs, the blown save and the loss for The Beard.

Marlins' 9th inning. It was a rough inning for Jack McKeon's club. The Marlins went into the ninth with a 4-3 lead over the Rockies and closer Leo Nunez coming into the game. Dexter Fowler hit what reads in the box score as a double, but it was actually a flare that no one could get to. When Marlins third baseman Greg Dobbs ended up with the ball at second base, Fowler was slipping between first and second and was a sitting duck. Dobbs then fired an errant throw in an attempt to cut down Fowler, which instead allowed Fowler to reach second base. “Hindsight being 20-20, I should have held the ball and ran at him,” Dobbs said after the game (Fish Tank). A Carlos Gonzalez double plated Fowler to tie the game. McKeon then elected to intentionally walk Troy Tulowitzki and bring in left-handed specialist Randy Choate to face left-handed hitting Jason Giambi. It was certainly the right move on paper, but Giambi hit a three-run, walk-off homer. Basically, Lady Luck was not on the side of the Marlins in the ninth.

The Angels. They lost a young starting pitcher to a groin injury in the first inning, gave up eight runs on 14 hits and committed three errors against the Rangers Monday night. Oh, and the Angels also fell five games behind the Rangers in the AL West. There are three games left in the series, but that could mean bad news if the Angels don't wake up. Otherwise they're liable to see themselves eight games back by the weekend, especially if they play the way they did Monday.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 11:41 pm
 

Video: Thome's first career home run

By Matt Snyder

Jim Thome became the eighth man in baseball history to hit 600 career home runs when he went deep twice Monday night. He hit his first career home run all the way back in 1991. He was only 21, but he already had serious power and a flair for the dramatic. In the top of the ninth in (old) Yankee Stadium, with Thome's Indians trailing 2-1, he dug in against Steve Farr with a runner on base. And he planted one into the upper deck to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.

Courtesy of MLB.com, check it out below.



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

Much more to Thome than home runs

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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Posted on: August 15, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 10:55 pm
 

Thome slugs home runs No. 599, 600



By Matt Snyder

Career HR Leaders
Player Total
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez-y 626
7. Sammy Sosa 609
8. Jim Thome-y 600
9. Frank Robinson 586
10. Mark McGwire 583
Twins designated hitter Jim Thome has joined one of baseball's most exclusive clubs. Monday night in the top of the sixth inning against the Tigers, Thome took Rick Porcello deep to left-center for a two-run home run. It was the 599th homer of Thome's long career. In the top of the seventh inning, Thome went to left field off Daniel Schlereth for his 600th home run. He drove home five runs in back-to-back at-bats to give the Twins a 9-5 lead.

Thome was greeted at home plate, after his 600th homer, by his family and his Twins teammates. He was also given a respectful, classy ovation from the Detroit fans on hand to witness the historical homers. The 600th home run ball went into the Twins' bullpen, so the story of what some fan will do with the ball goes away. Twins closer Joe Nathan retrieved the ball and it's now in the possession of Thome's son.

Thome is now the eighth man in the history of baseball with 600 career home runs. Alex Rodriguez was previously the most recent player to join the group, which had as few as three members at the turn of the millennium. Thome became the first player in baseball history to hit home runs 599 and 600 in consecutive at-bats. He also became the second-fastest to 600, in terms of at-bats, as only Babe Ruth had less at-bats when hitting his 600th home run. Thome also became the oldest man to reach 600 home runs, passing Sammy Sosa, who was 37 when he hit No. 600 in 2007.

Thome, 40, has been playing in the bigs for parts of 21 seasons with five different teams. He hit 334 home runs for the Indians, 134 for the White Sox, 96 for the Phillies and zero for the Dodgers. Monday night's home runs were the 35th and 36th for Thome in a Twins uniform in what amounts to a bit less than a full season's worth of at-bats. So he certainly still has great power.

One would guess hitting his 600th home run would mean Thome is Hall-of-Fame bound. He still has a career on-base percentage over .400, an OPS of .960 and more than 1,500 runs and RBI. Plus, everyone else in the 600-home run club is either in Cooperstown, headed there, or will be left out due to PED suspicion. Thome has never been connected with PEDs.

More Snyder on Thome: Thome's run at 600 deserved more attention | More to Thome than home runs

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Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention



By Matt Snyder


A Major League Baseball player is going to achieve something this season that only seven others in the history of the game have. No, we aren't talking about Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. That was a special moment, especially since no Yankees player had achieved the feat in a Yankees uniform and that he hit a home run en route to going 5-5 on that day. But Jeter became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club. Twins designated hitter Jim Thome currently has 596 career home runs. When he hits No. 600, he'll join just seven others in that much more exclusive club: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

Now, here's how special Thome is. He played during the stained "steroid era" with Bonds, Sosa, A-Rod and Griffey. Griffey and Thome have never been accused of using anything by a credible source nor tested positive. Bonds, Sosa and A-Rod have. It should make us appreciate this impending feat that much more.

Career HR Leaders
Player Total
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez-y 626
7. Sammy Sosa 609
8. Jim Thome-y 596
9. Frank Robinson 586
10. Mark McGwire 583
Instead, the hype doesn't seem to be building nearly as much as it should. Maybe it's because Thome's home runs are pretty spread out now. As he moves into a more limited role, he only has seven this season. Thus, if we hype every single game, we might be waiting through upwards of 100 games in anticipation. That would be exhausting. Maybe the hype gets close to the hype for Jeter once Thome hits No. 599. We'll see, but I suspect it won't get anywhere close.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm part of the media that heavily hyped Jeter's quest for 3,000. If you saw the traffic numbers the Jeter stories drew compared to other stories, you wouldn't blame us. It's New York. It's Derek Jeter. It's a huge milestone. That gets numbers. Plus, I quite admire Jeter. I admire how he's played all these years in the spotlight and drawn nothing but respect from his peers. He's rarely been involved in much controversy, and that's a pretty tough task for 15 years as the face of the sport's most recognizable franchise. So please don't misconstrue this as a complaint against the Jeter coverage. It's far from it. Jeter deserved his coverage.

But take away the New York spotlight element and you could say many of the same things about Thome. In fact, you could say better things. Not only do you never hear an ill word about Thome as a teammate or an opposing player, but he's won the both Roberto Clemente and Marvin Miller Man of the Year awards for his character, sportsmanship and community involvement. He has or will be reportedly putting all 10 of his nieces and nephews through college (Star-Tribune).

On the field, Thome's probably been underrated throughout his career. Despite regressions as he's aged -- he's 40 now -- he still has a career on-base percentage of over .400 (the seventh-highest active mark). His 1,646 RBI place him 28th all time. Why did he only make five All-Star teams and finish in the top 10 of MVP voting four times? Well, because his prime was during the juice era. And as far as all the evidence says, he didn't juice. And there's something to be said for longevity. He hit 25 home runs in just 276 at-bats last season. His prodigious 596th homer shows he still has the power.

Simply put, if you want a true All-Star both off and on the field, you need not look further than Thome. And he's nearing a milestone only a handful of guys have ever done without legitimate accusations of impurity.

Maybe it's because he's playing in a smaller market than New York. Maybe it's because he's bounced around a lot in his career and there isn't one fan base claiming him as their own. Maybe it's because some feel he's just a stat compiler -- which is ridiculous, by the way, since only seven guys have ever compiled this many homers. Or maybe it's just that we're waiting until he gets closer.

Whatever the reason, we need to rectify it. Jim Thome is close to hitting his 600th career home run. He deserves much more of our attention.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com