Frank Thomas is mediocre—at least that's what one scout seemed to think back in 1989.
As Frank Thomas looks forward to possible induction into the Hall of Fame, it's fun to look back at some scouts who did their best to play baseball soothsayer with the hulking behemoth who once smashed the cover off the ball.
The following snapshot and scouting assertions come thanks to the archives of Baseballhall.org. Thomas' page at Diamond Mines features scouting reports from five baseball prognosticators. However, we simply have to start with the most intriguing, Larry Maxie's report from 1989 (pictured below).
The part BC found funny and you will no doubt enjoy is the summation that, as best we can tell, reads, ".250 hitter tops, if that. But will hit HR's (20 on bad year if he gets 500 ABs)."
That's essentially like saying Brooks Robinson might be able to stop some grounders from getting through the infield or that Don Drysdale had a slight propensity to throw inside when crowded.
As we now know, Thomas finished his career a .301 hitter who clubbed 521 home runs and drove in 1,704 runs.
While he didn't maintain his prolific output throughout his career, a quick look at his Baseball Reference page is a nice exercise to appreciate his talent anew.
From 1990 (his age 22 season) to 1997 (29), he managed to hit over .300 every single season, batting a career high .347 in 1997.
He would then bat .305 and .328 in 1999 and 2000 respectively. What's more, from 1990 to 2007, his OPS dipped below .800 just once—his 2001 season that saw him play in just 20 games.
All of this is to say Thomas was very good for a very long time. It's also important to note the overarching theme here: scouting is hardly an exact science.
And really, we don't want to give Maxie too hard a time, because it's impossible to see every single instance of greatness with 100 percent accuracy.
If you recall, Busted Coverage spotted a similar scouting report on another former star with eyes on a Hall of Fame prize: Greg Maddux.
In 1985, Mets scout Duffy Dyer wrote, among other things, that Maddux was, "not strong enough to be a starter." He also labeled him as tops a Triple-A player.
To be fair, Maxie does note the otherworldly power. That's essentially what you get from the other scouting reports as well.
Mike Rizzo (1988) states, "power and bat are very exciting." Donald Labossiere (1989) says it best, "Has genuine loft ML power now. His mistakes go 360 feet." And really those are the best kinds of mistakes.
CBS Sports' Mike Axisa seems to think Thomas, a big man who fits the physique of someone suspected of PED use, has long been outspoken against the once popular methods of his colleagues.
It's that longtime vocal support for testing that, as Axisa offers, makes Thomas a far better candidate to get into the hall than most.
The Chicago Sun-Times' John Grochowski went a step further and proclaimed that Maddux and Thomas are the obvious worthy candidates in this year's class.
Regardless, it has to be an honor to merely be considered for inclusion among the sport's best. If he does get in, it will be pretty darn good for a hitter whom one scout considered to be little more than mediocre.
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