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Big Frank is headed to the Hall of Fame. That much we know. His standing among the great first basemen still is not known, after a .271/.434/.563 half-season in 2004 at age 36.

Frank Thomas was drafted in the 1st round of the 1989 draft by the White Sox after a fabulous college career at Auburn. He spent a few months in 1989 in rookie ball and then 4 months in double A in 1990 before making his debut in the Show in the late summer. He went .323/.454/.529 during 60 games that year, and continued in that vein until 1997. His best year, unfortunately, was the strike year when he hit .350 with tremendous power and strike zone judgment. After the year, Bill James described him, perhaps hyperbolically, as one of the 3 greatest hitters of all time, with Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. He has been much less consistent in his 30s, with off-seasons in 1998, 2001 and 2002.

Thomas was an indifferent defensive first baseman before being converted to DH at age 30. He has participated in two post-season series, both losing, and hit .231/.346/.500.

Here's where he stands against the great first basemen at age 36:

Player    G     AB     H     HR    W     BA    OBP   SLUG   OPS+
Thomas 1925 6851 2113 436 1450 .308 .429 .567 162
McCovey 1970 6263 1736 435 1112 .277 .388 .543 159
Foxx 2228 7910 2586 527 1429 .327 .431 .615 164
Gehrig 2164 8001 2721 493 1429 .340 .447 .632 179
Mize 1522 5596 1787 316 768 .319 .405 .577 164

He obviously stands behind Gehrig. It will take a superb end-of-career rush for him to equal or pass Foxx offensively, but he's a little ahead of McCovey at this stage.

I mentioned in the Palmeiro piece that great first basemen are showing much greater longevity than they used to. Here's the evidence:

Player     Seasons(37+)   AB      BA    OBP    SLIG    OPS+
Sisler 1 116 .308 .346 .397 81
Terry 1 229 .310 .363 .424 112
Greenberg 0 0
Mize 4 847 .264 .341 .469 117
Foxx 1 224 .268 .336 .420 112
Gehrig 0 0
Ott 2 72 .069 .162 .125 -18

McCovey 6 1934 .246 .327 .424 110
Murray 5 2212 .275 .327 .444 100
McGriff 4 1405 .275 .354 .493 122
Palmeiro 3 1657 .264 .370 .505 120

To keep ahead of McCovey, Thomas will have to do pretty well towards the end of his career. Will he? He's a big man, and he's been inconsistent in his 30s. Somehow, I don't think he will. Not that it's an embarrassment to slide in behind Gehrig, Foxx and McCovey among the great first basemen.

For the Green projection method today, we'll go Hungarian. A little sauteed onion, a few tablespoons of paprika and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Inhale and pronounce:

Frank Thomas' final career statistics- 482 homers, .303/.415/.550

Other first basemen in this series: Fred McGriff, Rafael Palmeiro

Next up: Jeff Bagwell
Hall Watch 2004-The First Basemen-Frank Thomas | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Mick - Sunday, November 07 2004 @ 11:11 PM EST (#18896) #
I agree he's headed for the Hall, but I do think it's possible he'll ahve to wait if he hangs around hitting .270 for another five years or so, especially if he DHs a lot. At some point, the end-of-career mediocrity simply doesn't hurt a player's legacy (see Mays, Willie) but in others it certainly does (see Murphy, Dale).

It is certainly not inconceiveable that his career BA will fall below .300, and cosmetics matter to "first ballot or not?" decisions, as does the fact that he is likely to end up playing fewer games at 1B (currently 971) than DH (currently 932) ... that might make him the first guy who was primarily a DH to make the Hall and some people won't like that.
_Magpie - Monday, November 08 2004 @ 02:41 AM EST (#18897) #
Thomas is an easy HoF selection, obviously. He's almost certainly going to clear 500 HRs; if he stays healthy (a big if in this case), he could even make a run at 600.

If he just keeps hitting .270, it'll still take four full seasons to get his lifetime BAVG below .300. If he plays four full seasons, he's going to have at least 550 HRs, one would think.

Interestingly, Jimmie (the Beast) Foxx is a very good comp for Frank (Big Hurt) Thomas in at least one way (so far at least). Foxx did most of his damage - he was truly The Beast - before turning 33 as well. Foxx had 500 HRs by age 32, and added just 34 afterwards.

Thomas had his last Big Hurt season at age 32. He had his first major injury the next season, and he hasn't been the same hitter since (although he did bang out 70 HRs in his two full seasons since, and 18 in half a season in 2004.)
_Mick - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 03:31 PM EST (#18898) #
All you need to know about a candidate's viability; including this post, at this time, number of comments in the following Hall Candidate threads:

Bagwell: 5
Thomas: 3
McGriff: 44
Hall Watch 2004-The First Basemen-Frank Thomas | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.