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Jim Thome has been very good the past two years.
He has added 43.8 runs to his teams' ledgers with his bat in 664 plate appearances, according to wRAA (which assigns empirically accurate values to all batting events, thereby providing a precise evaluation metrics like OPS, homers and batting average cannot match).
For perspective, consider that Ryan Howard himself added just 42.5 runs to the Phillies' cause in 1,264 plate appearances over that span.
Of course, those numbers do not tell the whole story. Playing more often exposed Howard to the ravages of baseball's relentless schedule. Though Thome's .362 wOBA was eight points better than Howard's in 2011, regression analysis based on Howard having batted 340 more times puts the Phillies' injured slugger (.352) back in front of its aged one (.351).
That's just the statistical side of the issue. The subjective side is nearly as important. How will Thome handle increased playing time, if it comes? Can his knees and back withstand playing every day, let alone playing the field every day, even for half a season?
It's impossible to know, but Thome must think he can handle the workload, or else he would not have agreed to this deal.