In the wake of Jim Thome’s 600th career home run, the newest debate is whether or not Thome is worthy of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I have been debating this in my head since the discussions started and maybe by the end of this article I will have an answer.
First, let me state that I am against the Hall of Fame letting in lesser players. It is simple, if you are not worthy of induction in your first 13 votes, I do not understand why you are all of a sudden a Hall of Famer in your 14th vote. For example, Bert Blyleven is not Hall of Fame material. In his first vote he only had 17.5% of the vote and in his second he only had 14.1% of the vote. How come 12 years later, he had 64% of the vote? We see videos of him crying every year and that increases his vote? No offense to his fans, I am as much of a Hall of Famer as Bert Blyleven and I have zero career strikeouts.
Here are a list of other questionable Hall of Famers inducted over the past decade or so: Andre Dawson (9th vote), Jim Rice (15th vote) and Tony Perez (9th vote). It seems like over the past decade, the writers have been swayed by the emotions of the players that do not get elected and eventually feel sorry for them and the next year vote for their induction. I would not support Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Don Mattingly or Dale Murphy’s induction either. I would celebrate any induction, but that does not mean I have to believe they are worthy.
For the record I do believe that Rich Gossage (9th vote) and Bruce Sutter (13th vote) are Hall of Famers. It took the writers too many years to recognize relievers.
First, he is a member of the 600 home run club. Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. have hit more home runs than Thome. That itself is an accomplishment and should get every accolade possible. But before moving on, let’s look at Thome’s career and statistics.
Thome is in his 21st season.
He had 601 career home runs in 21 seasons. He has averaged 29.45 home runs per season for his career. He has hit 40 or more home runs in a season six times and led the league in home runs once. He is 5th all-time in an average of 13.6 at-bats per home run.
Thome is 27th all-time in runs batted in with 1664. By the end of this season, he should move up two more places. He is 23rd on the list in career extra base hits and 42nd in his career in times on base. He is 49th all-time in on-base percentage and 19th all-time in slugging percentage, therefore he is 17th all-time in on-base plus slugging percentage.
No one can deny that Thome is one of the best sluggers of all-time.
He is a five-time all-star. He has never ranked higher than 4th in any MVP ballot. He only has one career Silver Slugger Award, and in that season he did not lead the American League in any statistical categories. He is in the Top 100 in the following categories as well; games played, plate appearances, runs scored, walks, strikeouts (just 150 behind Reggie Jackson) and intentional bases on balls.
His career batting average is .277, tying him for 695th all-time. He has been a full-time designated hitter since 2005 and has not been a full-time player since 2008. He has been on nine teams that have made it to the playoffs and played in 15 series. His career postseason batting average is .217, with 17 home runs and 37 runs batted in, in 251 at bats. He has never been on a World Series winning team.
In addition, from what I have read about Thome, he is the nicest guy in the world. He knows all employees and even season ticket holders by name. He talks to all the reports and has a great relationship with them. They all respect him and it shows that he respects everyone.
All this leads me back to my original question, is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer. Looking t his numbers, how can you say that he is not? Thome has a proven career and has done things that less than ten men have done (and even less have done it cleanly). His numbers are comparable to some of the all-time greats and he may be quiet, he may be without pomp and circumstance and you may not even realize his accomplishments. But there is one thing to realize; one day Jim Thome will have a plaque in Cooperstown. Congratulations Jim.