Soon They’ll be Calling Him ‘The God’ Here: Eric Thames
When Eric Thames signed with the Brewers in the offseason, I wrote a piece about what I thought about him. The positive development: I was right. Let’s hope that you followed my advice and went and acquired him. And although I love to toot my own horn, that’s not what we’re here for. We are here to see whether that guy you acquired from following my advice is the next Babe Ruth. Those are really the only two plausible outcomes: The Babe, or not The Babe. Now that we’ve gotten that mess out of the way, time to talk about Thames.
Let’s first revisit what I wrote about Thames in December:
Personally, I think there are two things to take away: one, we need more American teams named the Dinos, and two, Eric Thames is a lot more intriguing than your average player who couldn’t cut it in Major League Baseball.
Both still remain. Sadly, no one has jumped on the Dinos bandwagon yet; if Thames keeps hitting, everyone with struggling hitters will try to make that their medicine. As for the second part, how’s this stat-line (through Saturday) sound: .373/.479/.881, including six doubles and eight homers. I’d call that intriguing. I’d also call it Ruthian. Will it stay that way?
Thames has two physical attributes going for him. Let’s start with his beard:
Thames is also jacked. He’s an absolute monster. There’s a reason they called him ‘The God’ while he played in the Korean Baseball Organization. Let’s just say he played for the correct team in the Dinos. Between a beard like that and the muscle mass that Thames has, he has always had power. Now, he’s tapping into it more than he ever has Stateside.
Why? He’s swinging at better pitches and hitting them more often. It’s a pretty simple recipe for success. According to Fangraphs, Thames’ career O-Swing% (the percentage of pitches outside the zone that he swings at) is 34.4%. Since the beginning of this year, it’s 20.7%. Thames’ career swinging strike percentage is 11.9%, but he’s dropped it to 8.7% this year. These are two stats that stabilize a lot quicker than counting numbers, and they show a changed hitter.
Let’s analyze this in the most simplistic way possible. Imagine you’re a big, strong man with a gift for hitting baseballs a long way. Ideally, you’d want to swing at the pitches that are most easily hit the long way. Usually, those pitches are in the strike zone. And usually, you don’t want to whiff on those hittable pitches. Since improving his approach while playing in the KBO, Thames is swinging at less pitches out of the strike zone, and swinging-and-missing less. That whole analysis we just went through? He figured it out (thus far).
Later career renaissances aren’t unheard of. That fella they call Joey Bats had one; Josh Donaldson, too. The difference here is that no one has had one after leaving a struggling big league career to go play in South Korea. There’s a first time for everything!
There are two sides to this coin: either you own Thames, or you want to own Thames. I’d imagine there’s no one remaining who doesn’t want to own Thames, leave Patrick Star since he literally lives under a rock. If you own him, I beg you to keep him. There’s no telling where it goes. This is a giant man who has finally figured out the best way to tap into his power. Sure, major league pitchers will figure out his weaknesses at some point; I’m willing to bet Thames will find a way to adjust back. He already figured it out once.
If you don’t own Thames, wait and jump on a slump week. No one believes he’ll keep this up. As soon as he struggles, feel out his owner. They might just be willing to sell at a value they think is selling high. It’s not. I don’t care what league it is, if you hit 37 HR for three straight seasons, you have power. Thames did that in Korea, thus he has power. Now, he may have the contact ability to go with it. Bet on that last part. The worst thing that happens is you get a struggling hitter who carries your team in the beard department.