Posts Tagged ‘Frank Thomas’

Frank Thomas Officially Retires, Next Stop Cooperstown

February 12, 2010

On the same day that one future Hall of Famer officially announced his retirement, another future Hall of Famer did the same. Last night, two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas officially announced his retirement.

Not only did Glavine and Thomas retire on the same day, their situations were similar. Like Glavine, Thomas was forced into semi-retirement in 2009. Thomas didn’t play a single inning last season and yesterday, Thomas officially called it a career.

Thomas truly "Hurt" the baseball

Thomas will finish his career with a .301 average, 521 home runs, 2,468 hits, 495 doubles, a .419 OBP, and a .974 OPS in 19 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays. His .974 career OPS is good for 15th all time. He also won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 93′ and 94′ with the White Sox.

I think if there is such a thing as an underrated Hall of Fame player, Thomas was it. For those of you who weren’t old enough to watch Thomas in the 1990’s, you probably don’t understand how good this guy was.

From 1991-2000, Thomas averaged a hitting line of .320/.439/.581 with 34 home runs, 115 RBI, 114 walks, and 35 doubles. Those are like Baseball Stars numbers after you power up your team. However, Thomas was overshadowed by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.

I will go far as to say that if you asked the average baseball outside of Chicago to name the top-10 players of the 90’s, many of them wouldn’t even mention Thomas. Mo Vaughn would probably get more votes than Thomas would in that poll.

I really don’t think Thomas got the credit he deserved for being as good as he was back in the day. This guy almost won back-to-back unanimous MVP awards (he unanimously won the award in 93′)! That is incredible and rarely talked about.

Of course the Thomas detractors (David Wells) will talk about how Thomas played the majority of his games at DH for the second-half of his career and was rarely on the field. Who cares if he played the majority of his games at DH towards the later half of his career? I never understood why that is a negative on a player’s resume?

Nowhere on the Cooperstown application does it say a player had to be a “five-tool” player in order to get in. Whether you like it or not, the DH is a position in the AL. If a player excels at that position, then I don’t see a problem with it.

One thing I don’t see anyone having a problem with about Thomas was his nickname. The “Big Hurt” was one of the best and most appropriate nicknames of any player in the history of baseball. At 6’5” and 257 lbs, Thomas is a big boy and truly hurt the baseball when he hit it.

Such a great nickname.

Thomas will eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014 and he will also have his No.35 retired by the White Sox this summer.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

John Smoltz and Jason Giambi DFA’d…

August 8, 2009

It was a bad day yesterday to be a former star of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Former 1996 National League Cy Young award winner John Smoltz was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox and former 2000 American League MVP Jason Giambi was dealt the same fate by the Oakland A’s.

For those of you not familiar with the term “designated for assignment or DFA’d,” it means that the team the player was on has 10 days to try to trade him, or the player can accept a minor-league assignment, or if all else fails that player will be released and is free to sign with any ball club. I will talk about Smoltz first since I have more to say about him than I do Giambi.

I am very surprised things didn’t work out for Smoltz in Boston. I envisioned Smoltz as a guy who could have given the Red Sox five solid innings every time out. I thought Smoltz could have been to the Red Sox in 2009 what Bret Saberhagen was to the Sox in 1999. Saberhagen was basically a five inning pitcher at that point in his career, but still won 10 games and had an ERA of 2.95.

Is it over for Smoltz?

Is it over for Smoltz?

Saberhagen he was not. In eight starts, Smoltz was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. Outside of his one solid start against the Orioles where he gave up one run over five innings while striking out seven – Smoltz was dreadful. Smoltz’s two biggest problems this season – he couldn’t get lefties out and missed location.

Left-handed batters were hitting .444 with six HR’s off of Smoltz in just 90 AB’s. However, right-handed hitters were only hitting .232 off the future first ballot Hall of Famer. That is why I think Smoltz still has value in the major leagues.

I think Smoltz could have value as a right-handed specialist out of the bullpen. He can clearly still get righties out. In the bottom of the seventh, ALCS, two on and two out and Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria, Torii Hunter, or Miguel Cabrera is up – I still would trust Smoltz to get that out.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Smoltz over the next 10 days. If he chooses to pitch, I think he still can help any team in baseball as a reliever if he chooses to accept that role.

The other player DFA’d yesterday was Jason Giambi. Giambi who is one of the poster boys for a “moneyball type” player (slow, terrible defense, hits HR’s, high OBP) and to be honest – the Steroid Era was DFA’d by the Oakland A’s. Like Smoltz with the Red Sox, I am surprised this didn’t work in Oakland.

No longer the Giambino

No longer the Giambino

When Giambi returned to Oakland (a place I don’t think he ever wanted to leave in the first place), I figured he would hit somewhere between .230 and .240 with 25-30 HR’s, 75-85 RBI, and have an OBP in the .370’s. After 83 games in Oakland, this was not the case.

Giambi was having a terrible year with the A’s. He was only hitting .193 with 11 HR’s and 40 RBI. He is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained right quadriceps muscle.

Can Giambi help someone down the stretch? I think it is possible. Believe it or not, Giambi is close to a .280 lifetime pinch-hitter and he still has a great eye at the plate. Despite hitting only .193, Giambi’s OBP was .332. That is pretty impressive.

A role of a pinch-hitter late in the game against righties might serve Giambi and a contenting team well.

Between Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, John Smoltz, and Jason Giambi – it has been a bad year for aging veterans in baseball.