Of course he can.
He's the prototypical singles hitter with a propensity for finding his way on base. Rarely venturing outside the strike zone, Josh Thole gives himself every opportunity to swing at quality pitches, and spit at those outside his reach.
He's not a power hitter and doesn't pretend to be. He had only 20 extra-base hits in 114 games last season.
Contact, contact, contact.
Currently, Thole boasts a .364 average after Wednesday's game. His on-base percentage is at .463, which would be good enough for fourth in all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Damn it, Mike Nickeas!
A career .281 hitter, Thole is on pace to have the best season of his young career. He won't turn 26 until after this season, and is still climbing towards his prime.
He has 723 plate appearances in his career, and has struck out only 83 times. When Thole puts the ball in play, good things happen. While he has yet to eclipse the .300 barrier thus far in his career, consider the following:
Thole has never finished a season with a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) under .300. Bottom line—Thole is an effective hitter.
Part of the reason why is his patience. Thole has outperformed the average league OBP by at least 21 points each season.
He has boiled hitting down to its simplest form: swing at good pitches, make contact, and don't be something you aren't. In this case, a power hitter.
It's an important ideal for a young player to embrace, and the selfless Thole clearly has already done so.
So what's holding Thole back from .300? Well, first and foremost, Terry Collins. Thole is the kind of hitter that needs his fair share of plate appearances. The less Nickeas, the better. For all of us.
Other than that, there is no reason why Thole can't finish the 2012 season over the .300 threshold.
Keep your heads up, Mets fans. The future really is a bit brighter.
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