Is Marcus Thames Packing His Bags?

Dave HamptonCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2009

SEATTLE - JULY 15:  Marcus Thames #33 of the Detroit Tigers leads off against the Seattle Mariners on July 15, 2007 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Tigers won 11-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Who's your Tiger? I loved seeing those commercials on Fox Sports Detroit. That enthusiastic voice always made me grin and say that Mike Maroth was my Tiger.

I still wear the customized t-shirt from the MLB online shop that bears his name and number.

I was not very pleased in June 2007, when Maroth was sent to St. Louis for a player-to-be-named-later. For the rest of the '07 season, I didn't have a Tiger. I didn't know who to go with.

So, at the beginning of last season I held an open competition: Who Wants to be Dave's Tiger?

The finalists narrowed down to Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn, with Thames winning out because of his impressive slugging percentage, smooth presence on the field, and that smile he flashes when he puts one over the fence or makes a good catch.

As chance would have it, I'm wearing his No. 33 on my back right now, the customized t-shirt I bought when I decided he was my Tiger.

It is funny how things work out sometimes. There is a very good chance my Tiger could be getting shipped out of town, again.

The Tigers have a surplus of right handed power hitters, supposedly, and that makes Thames and his power stroke expendable.

From what I have heard, trade talks with his name in them have been heating up. Thames could very well be wearing a different uniform by the time camp breaks and the Tigers head north.

Only 14 players in the American League hit more home runs than Thames last year.

The amazing part of that statistic is that he only needed 316 at-bats to crush those 25 home runs. On the other hand, the rest of the league leaders in homeruns, and many players who hit less than Thames, had 450-600+ at-bats. That was phenomenal, the pace at which he raked.

Imagine if you would, Thames getting a full season's worth of at-bats. He very well could have hit 40 home runs last year, if he would have received more at-bats.

Then again, anomalous statistics such as those tend to even themselves out over a full season.

Mike Napoli, the catcher for the Angels, is the only other player that raked at a pace similar to Thames. Thames averaged one home run every 12.64 at-bats, Napoli hit 20 home runs in 227 at-bats, which is one every 11.35 at-bats.

At his pace, in 550 at-bats Thames would have hit 43 dingers. Of course, as I stated before, his stats probably would have leveled off a bit in receiving a full season of at-bats.

Regardless, he probably could have challenged Miguel Cabrera for the AL home run title. That would have been exciting, an in-team race for most home runs.

Then again, as anomalous as his statistics might seem, he has actually hit at that pace for the past three seasons. In the last three years Thames has raked 69 home runs in 933 at-bats, which shakes out to one home run every 13.5 at-bats.

I am sure someone has to think that Thames can keep up that pace for a full season, and I would think myself a fool to bet against him.

This is where the upside lies for Thames, and why other teams want him. I know other teams can envision themselves dropping him into left field and watching him crush close to 40 home runs, and drive in 110-120 runs.

He would probably strike out about 150 times as well (he has struck out once every 3.6 at-bats over the past 3 seasons). As regrettable as that might be, it goes with the territory. Can you really complain when you are getting that kind of long ball excitement and production?

So, I am prepared to wave good bye to Marcus Thames and wholeheartedly wish him the best of luck wherever he winds up. I will also hope he brings the Tigers a good arm in return for the bullpen.

As much as I cheer for the old English "D" on the front of the jersey, I also root for the name on the back.

It was sad to lose my Tiger once, but I have earnestly kept track of Maroth's career since then (now in camp with the Blue Jays), and always wish him every success. It was a real treat to see Chris Lambert, the player-to-be-named-later the Tigers received, pitch in Toledo for the Mud Hens last August.

I hope Thames stays in Detroit, but I also know he could bring a valuable piece in return, if traded. And so, if I must lose my Tiger so soon for a second time, go forth into the hearts of others and show them your very best. I'm pulling for you, Marcus.