Sunday, April 23, 2006
Thome is taking up jogging, 360' at a time
I understand that the reason I keep hearing that Jim Thome is off to a hot start and will cool off is because I live in Philadelphia. The fans and media are bitter, I think, despite what they may say. Bitter that he didn't produce last year; bitter that he was injured and would have been an asset to the playoff push; mostly though, bitter that he is doing so well right now. In 2004 he hit a home run once every three games, on average. In 2005, he hit a HR once in about every eight games. His production was down, but he was fighting injury all year. Yeah he is getting on in his career, but he's still a great hitter capable of producing runs.
That said, It really annoys me when I hear that his hot bat to start the 2006 season is merely a fluke; a flash in the pan from an aging player (37 in August). 2005 was the first year since the '93 season he had less than 20 home runs and less than 50 RBI's. The guy is a hitter. He strikes out a lot, but he is still a capable player when he steps in the box.
The thing that is important to remember with all this is that he doesn't play the field anymore. His career has taken him from third to first, and now to the DH position with the White Sox. He won't have to deal with as much playing time, keeping the wear and tear on his body to a minimum. All Thome has to do is hit, something that he has been consistently good at for the majority of his career. Compound that with Konerko running protection behind him, he should have some good looks all year long. As long as he stays healthy this year, i.e. not sliding headfirst trying to get to second, he should return to form. Ozzie Guillen said he will use him as a spot position player to give Konerko a rest on occasion, but that shouldn't be too much on Thome.
I hope he hits 40 homers again this year. He is on pace to hit 81 at the moment. Though that is surely not happening, he already has more homers in 18 games this year than he did in 59 last season. Moral of the story, Philly fans need to shut up.
On another, more Philly-friendly note, Ryan Howard is a freak. As I watched Baseball Tonight this evening, I damn near forgot about Thome altogether when I saw the replay of Howard's 496-foot blast to center, over the enormous brick wall. Oh yeah, he homered again in the third. The dude has power, undoubtedly, and batting against righties he's going to be spectacular. Thome who?
Posted by Lou Perseghin at 9:51 PM