Monday, May 8, 2017

Eric Thames: God Arrives in Milwaukee

I'm not trying to be blasphemous.  To be clear, I don't worship Eric Thames, but a lot of people in Korea did.  He earned his deity status and non-secular nickname during a 3-year stretch for the NC Dinos that would be hard for me to even sustain in Super Nintendo.
  • 2014: .343/.422/.688, 37 HR, 121 RBI
  • 2015: .381/.497/.790, 47 HR, 140 RBI
  • 2016: .321/.427/.679, 40 HR, 120 RBI
That's a ridiculous 1.168 average OPS.  For frame of reference, the MLB league average is usually around .725-750 and .900 would be an all-star caliber player.  It was understandable when the Brewers signed Thames to a 3-year deal this offseason, that many experts assumed those numbers would not be sustainable in the major leagues, including the Brewers front office.  Partly because the KBO is considered about a AA-level talent, and partly because he wouldn't get to wear his gold-plated body armor anymore.  The team certainly took a big risk when they became the first franchise in MLB history to release a reigning homerun champion (Chris Carter) and put all of their faith in this relatively unproven product.  But I think the general thought was, even with half of the power production of Carter, that Thames would still be good for 20 HR or so with a better eye at the plate and an exponentially better glove in the field.  For the price they were paying him, it was worth it.

Needless to say, Eric's start to the season has been nothing short of miraculous and has blown skeptics away, and I think Eric himself would even admit he is surprised.  After a slow spring training spent figuring things out at this level again, Thames has hit to the tune of .324/.438/.731 with 12 HR and 22 RBI.  If you extrapolate that over the course of a season that's about a 1.170 OPS with 62 HR and 115 RBI, which is right on pace with his KBO numbers.  Thames was only 3 homers away from tying the record for most hit in the month of April.  Obviously, he is going to regress some - he did have a semi-human roadtrip recently with only one homerun.  But I think he has more than proven he can handle MLB pitching and has made David Stearns once again look like a wunderkind.  The Brewers may have found another diamond in the rough here, and it would sure be a relief to finally have a GM that has a knack for free agent signings.  After all, even with the rebuilds of the Astros, Cubs, and other teams, in the end it's the free agent signings that compliment the young core that put your team over the top.  It's up to the rest of the team to determine Thames' fate.  As of right now the team is generally overperforming their expectations, and if they keep that up, maybe Thames does not get traded for another crop of prospects.  Either way, it's a big win for the franchise and the fans.

Brewers 16-16, -1.5 (3 v. Red Sox, 3 v. Mets, 4 @ Padres)
Reds 17-14, +0.5 (2 v. Yankees, 4 @ Giants, 3 @ Cubs
Twins 15-14, -1.5 (3 @ White Sox, 3 @ Indians, 3 v. Rockies

Erik - 4 (+5 worked)

Peter - 9

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