Jim Thome Is Strong, Just Ask Brian Bannister, Kansas City Royals

Tim MeehanCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Jim Thome #25 of the Minnesota Twins follows the flight of his 1st inning home run against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 12-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Minnesota Twins are going after a late season sweep of the Kansas City Royals and Jim Thome is a big reason why.  During this series with the Royals Thome is 3-4 with 5 runs scored, 3 runs batted in, 2 home runs and 3 walks.

On a night Thome tied Frank Robinson for eighth all time on the career home run list the Twins offense was scoring a lot and often.  They put up 10 runs against the Royals at Target Field in Minnesota and Thome is definitely catching fire at the right time for a team that is making a push to clinch the AL Central.

In Thome's 20 seasons as a big league ball player his power has only twice showed itself more often than it has this year (He is hitting a home run every 10.91 at bats currently) and that was in 2001 (10.73 at bats per home run) and 2002 (9.23 at bats per home run).  Those two seasons were also his best statistically.

For a man that many thought should retire he is proving to be a valuable member in the Twins organization, both in the club house as a veteran leader and on the field as he leads the team in home runs and has added a much needed power hitter from the left side of the plate with Justin Morneau being sidelined due to a concussion suffered in July.

Thome now only needs 14 more home runs to become the 7th member of the 600 home run club, three of whom have been highly scrutinized for connections to steroids, something that has never come up in connection with Thome.

Thome is a big reason the Twins will not only clinch the AL Central but also why they have a very good shot at making a deep run into the playoffs, possibly bringing them all the way to the World Series.

If the Twins managed to win the World Series this year and when Thome hits his 600th home run next season it will guarantee him his spot in Cooperstown.  The only question will be whether he goes into the Hall of Fame wearing the hat of the team that gave him his start and that he hit 334 home runs for, or the team where he hit number 600 and possibly has a World Series ring with.