Jim Thome: Why He Will Walk into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Jim Thome: Why He Will Walk into the Baseball Hall of Fame

It's fascinating, from a purely statistical standpoint, that there's an argument over whether or not the Minnesota Twins' 600-homer-hitting Jim Thome will be inducted to the Hall of Fame.

It's a true historian vs. geek argument, the kind that has been putting wives and philosophy students alike into nap-like states since the beginning of time.

As for credentials, awards, and intangibles, I can only guess at what a voting committee might think.

Yeah, Thome has no MVP, no ring and only a handful of All-Star appearances—a total lack of the key ingredients that make up a dominant player.

But when you use the right numbers, Thome could be A-Rod—if it weren't for Barry.

Take a gander at these stats for Thome vs fellow 600-plus man and Cooperstown-lock Alex Rodriguez when we chop off the first three years of Thome's career (thereby conceding the completely inarguable fact that the velocity of A-Rod's upward mobility is meteoric) and discount this current year, as well, as we're still playing it out.

  Jim Thome
Season G HR RBI R EBH BA OPS BB
2010 108 25 59 48 43 .283 1.039 60
2009 124 23 77 55 38 .249 .847 69
2008 149 34 90 93 62 .245 .865 91
2007 130 35 96 79 54 .275 .973 95
2006 143 42 109 108 68 .288 1.014 107
2005 59 7 30 26 14 .207 .712 45
2004 143 42 105 97 71 .274 .977 104
2003 159 47 131 111 80 .266 .958 111
2002 147 52 118 101 73 .304 1.122 122
2001 156 49 124 101 76 .291 1.040 111
2000 158 37 106 106 71 .269 .929 118
1999 146 33 108 101 62 .277 .967 127
1998 123 30 85 89 66 .293 .997 89
1997 147 40 102 104 65 .286 1.001 120
1996 151 38 116 122 71 .311 1.062 123
1995 137 25 73 92 57 .314 .996 97
1994 98 20 52 58 41 .268 .882 46
 

  Alex Rodriguez
Season G HR RBI R EBH BA OPS BB
2010 137 30 125 74 61 .270 .847 59
2009 124 30 100 78 48 .286 .933 80
2008 138 35 103 104 68 .302 .965 65
2007 158 54 156 143 85 .314 1.067 95
2006 154 35 121 113 62 .290 .914 90
2005 162 48 130 124 78 .321 1.031 91
2004 155 36 106 112 62 .286 .888 80
2003 161 47 118 124 83 .298 .995 87
2002 162 57 142 125 86 .300 1.015 87
2001 162 52 135 133 87 .318 1.021 75
2000 148 41 132 134 77 .316 1.026 100
1999 129 42 111 110 67 .285 .943 56
1998 161 42 124 123 82 .310 .919 45
1997 141 23 84 100 66 .300 .846 41
1996 146 36 123 141 91 .358 1.045 59
1995 48 5 19 15 13 .232 .672 6
1994 17 0 2 4 0 .204 .445 3

 

Let's call this these players' "prime."

Beyond the basic symmetry of the trajectory of the numbers, you'll note that games and home runs are very close on a per-season basis (134 and 34 vs 135.5 and 36). Sure, A-Rod has more RBI, runs, and extra-base hits and also a better batting average.

OK, so right before I talked myself back out of this argument, I asked: If A-Rod were that much better at the plate, why is Thome's on-base plus slugging (OPS), so much higher than A-Rod’s (.964 to .916)?

Simple enough: It's the walks.

Thome was in the MLB top 10 for walks 10 times from 1995 to 2006.

A-Rod was in the top 10 once, in 2005, one of only two years Thome wasn't. Furthermore, Thome led that top 10 in home runs in 2002 and 2003 and would have led it in 2001 and 2000 were it not for Barry Bonds.

2002 MLB Player Leaders for Walks
BB Player Team HR
198 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 46
135 Brian Giles Pittsburgh Pirates 38
128 Adam Dunn Cincinnati Reds 26
122 Jim Thome Cleveland Indians 52
109 Jason Giambi New York Yankees 41
107 Lance Berkman Houston Astros 42
107 Chipper Jones Atlanta Braves 26
104 Rafael Palmeiro Texas Rangers 43
104 Bobby Abreu Philadelphia Phillies 20
103 Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 49
2003 MLB Player Leaders for Walks
BB Player Team HR
148 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 45
129 Jason Giambi New York Yankees 41
111 Todd Helton Colorado Rockies 33
111 Jim Thome Philadelphia Phillies 47
109 Bobby Abreu Philadelphia Phillies 20
109 Carlos Delgado Toronto Blue Jays 42
107 Lance Berkman Houston Astros 25
105 Brian Giles San Diego Padres 20
102 Jose Cruz Jr San Francisco Giants 20
100 Frank Thomas Chicago White Sox 42
100 Erubiel Durazo Oakland Athletics 21

That sounds dominant.

This should be figured out by the first ballot. The numbers show that Jim Thome was feared and, in the prime of his prime anyway, as feared as Barry Bonds.

Combine that with 600 home runs, and he's a lock. If he picks up a ring on his way out, he's a first-ballot lock. 

Statistically speaking, of course.

Stats and tables brought to you by StatSheet's MLB Embed. Try your own!

Load More Stories

Follow Minnesota Twins from B/R on Facebook

Follow Minnesota Twins from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Out of Bounds

Minnesota Twins

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.