Looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Frank Thomas

12/13/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - Looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Frank ThomasWe begin our look at the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot with the most prominent newcomer outside of locks Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (who both Pat and I have already given our thumbs up), Frank Thomas. Thomas’s major league career began in 1990 with the Chicago White Sox, when he spent his first 16 years in the bigs. From there, he moved on to Oakland as a free agent, followed by a year in Toronto, then one final year split between Toronto and Oakland again in 2008. His nickname was the Big Hurt for reasons that were obvious to anyone who ever saw him swing a bat. This is his first year on the ballot.
 
First, Pat and I will discuss whether we would vote for each player, then what we think of their chances of actually getting in. I’ll go first.
 
Personally, I think Thomas is a no doubter. For the first half of the 90s, he was arguably the best hitter in baseball. He won back-to-back MVPs in 1993 and 1994, the latter thanks to an absurd .353/.487/.729 battling line. That year, Thomas hit 38 homers despite the strike shortened season. That year was one of four where Thomas led the league in both OBP and OPS. From 1991-2000, his first 10 full years, he averaged 33.7 homers a season and hit .320/.439/.581 as a whole.
 
Thomas fell off from that insane peak in the next decade as he aged and started to suffer injuries. He had also long since become a DH after breaking into the bigs at first. When healthy though, Thomas showed he could still hit, such as the 146 OPS+ he posted in 2003, and the 140 OPS+ he hit his first year in Oakland in 2008. That year Thomas finished 4th in the MVP race at the age of 38. Overall, he retired with 2468 hits and 521 home runs for his career, with a batting line of .301/.419/.555. His OPS is 14th all-time, and he’s 18th all-time in homers, 22nd in RBIs (for those that care), and 10th in walks. Statistically, there is no legitimate case against him.
 
In addition, it should be noted that no star from the 90s was more vocal against PEDs than Frank Thomas. Does that mean he definitely was clean? No, as we have no way of knowing for sure either way, but given how flimsy the evidence is on guys the writers aren’t putting in, it’s worth pointing out Thomas at least talked the talk on the subject.
 
My vote on Thomas is an unequivocal YES.
 
Will He Get In: I want to say yes, because really, what’s the argument against? However, with the crowded ballot and the perception that Thomas is only the third most deserving newcomer (as if that matters), I can’t say it’s a lock. My guess is he’s within 5% of the cut line in either direction, with a total between 70-80%. If it’s less, just blow the damn institution up and start over. Hopefully I’m just being overly cynical.

Pat: Like Eric said, Frank Thomas should be a no-doubter. I'm not 100% convinced that's enough for him to actually get inducted on his first try, but there's really no reason he shouldn't. The Big Hurt was one of the most dominant hitters of the 1990s, and after slipping a bit in his mid-30s, was an MVP candidate again at age 38.

Between 1991 and 1997, he finished in the top 8 in MVP voting every season. He made the All Star team 5 times, which seems alarmingly low, to be honest, and won the Silver Slugger award 4 times.

Thomas' career totals of 2,468 hits and 521 HR are solid HOF-caliber numbers, and his career OPS+ of 156 is phenomenal. He led the league in that category 3 times, and finished second 4 times.

Will He Get In: I'd be shocked if the writers managed to find a way to snub Thomas, but it happened last year with Jeff Bagwell so I wouldn't be terribly surprised. Still, I'm predicting he gets inducted this year, and deservedly so.

Eric: Well, that one was relatively painless, but it's sure to get harder as we go on. We'll be back this afternoon with a look at Craig Biggio. Don't like our picks? Don't forget to vote for yourself in our poll.

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12/22/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

BTW, there's already a Hall of Famer who played more games at DH than any other position: Paul Molitor. Just something to note.

12/20/13   |   jaysinw   |   4899 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Thomas was primarily a first baseman from 1990-97. Combined, he hit .330/.452/.600.
He was a DH from then on (1998-2008). Then, he hit .276/.389/.515. That's not as stratospheric as it was before, but it's still really, really good. There's another, bigger reason for the  He was in his 20s when he was at first. He was in his 30s as a DH. The aging process always wins.

You know, I told myself wasn't going to be snarky to others this time, but "standard for the Hall will be lowered" if Frank Thomas gets in? Are you listening to yourself? So, he was a DH a lot. So what? The position has been around 40 years now. Thomas is one of 7 guys with a career .300/.400/.500 batting line of those with at least 10,000 PAs. The others are Ruth, Cobb, Musial, Speaker, Ott, and Chipper Jones. He has as many home runs as Ted Williams. If you don't think Thomas should be in solely because of his DH time, you (and ML31) are basically saying no DH *ever* deserves to get in, including Edgar and including Ortiz.

The stanard will go down without question, 51 game sin 1990 are you serious not much to go on there and then in 1997 he played 91 games at 1B and 54 he was just a DH. So really just 6 years out of his 15 did he play 1B for a whole season which takes a  lot more out of your body. Yes aging does wins unless you are Barry Bonds...

Wow so what the DH has been around for 40 years the relief pitcher has been around a lot longer and guess what there is only 5 in the hall. Some of which you yourself believes does not belong in there, so for a player who would going in as a DH his numbers should be off the chart. If not thanks for playing you were a good hitter but not a hall of fame player. 

12/17/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

FYI...  I am not saying that no DH should *ever* be in.  I'm saying that the standard for a DH should be higher than the standard for a player who plays in the field.  For example...  I have to think about Frank Thomas as a DH in the Hall.  But if Ted Williams (for example) were primarily a DH...  Yes.  He would be in because his #'s were just too high to ignore.

PS...  No way in Hell should Oritz be in the Hall.  Being a DH has nothing to do with it. 

12/17/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

jaysinw wrote:
Frank Thomas would not be getting snubbed when he is not elected into the HOF. Yes hands down he could hit, but how often did he influence a game. As a DH 3 maybe 4 times he had a chance, besides that he was on the bench more then half his career. For a player who was used primary as a DH he should be if not in the top 10 close to it in 90% of the offensive categories.If not then hey you had a nice career just not a hall of framer should have played a position in the field for your career so you would have a chance to get elected. Still if he gets in it will be a shame and the standard for the hall will just be lowered for others to get in. 

Thomas was primarily a first baseman from 1990-97. Combined, he hit .330/.452/.600.
He was a DH from then on (1998-2008). Then, he hit .276/.389/.515. That's not as stratospheric as it was before, but it's still really, really good. There's another, bigger reason for the  He was in his 20s when he was at first. He was in his 30s as a DH. The aging process always wins.

You know, I told myself wasn't going to be snarky to others this time, but "standard for the Hall will be lowered" if Frank Thomas gets in? Are you listening to yourself? So, he was a DH a lot. So what? The position has been around 40 years now. Thomas is one of 7 guys with a career .300/.400/.500 batting line of those with at least 10,000 PAs. The others are Ruth, Cobb, Musial, Speaker, Ott, and Chipper Jones. He has as many home runs as Ted Williams. If you don't think Thomas should be in solely because of his DH time, you (and ML31) are basically saying no DH *ever* deserves to get in, including Edgar and including Ortiz.

12/16/13   |   jaysinw   |   4899 respect

Frank Thomas would not be getting snubbed when he is not elected into the HOF. Yes hands down he could hit, but how often did he influence a game. As a DH 3 maybe 4 times he had a chance, besides that he was on the bench more then half his career. For a player who was used primary as a DH he should be if not in the top 10 close to it in 90% of the offensive categories.If not then hey you had a nice career just not a hall of framer should have played a position in the field for your career so you would have a chance to get elected. Still if he gets in it will be a shame and the standard for the hall will just be lowered for others to get in. 

12/16/13   |   huskerdoug2009   |   2790 respect

I have given up thinking anyone is Hall of Fame material since I no longer have a clue what are the qualifications.  I also continue to wonder if managers will have astericks by their names if they get in especially when their star players have admitted to or are linked to steroid use?  If voters don't vote in guys like Bonds, Big Mac, A-Rod and others, how can they put in a manager who won all those games with those guys?  Your using double standards in that regard.

12/15/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

What has been failed to be mentioned here is the thing that works against Frank Thomas.  The fact that he played so much DH in his career.  Offensive standards for DH's are just expected to be high.  I'm on the fence regarding him for that very reason but leaning towards letting him in eventually.  He's certainly not a first ballot kind of guy.  Especially if there are other locks (Maddux) ahead of him.  His offense really is the minimum that should be expected from a DH in the Hall of Fame.  Anything less is completely unacceptable.   Bad news for Edgar Martinez I should think....