Now that Alex Rodriguez has reached the 600-home run club, it’s time to look at who’s next.
Jim Thome, you’re up.
The Minnesota Twins slugger, who turns 40 on Aug. 27, has 13 home runs in 74 games this season and 577 over the course of his 20-year career. At his current pace, he should finish with about 584 or so this season, putting him in 600 territory at some point next season.
But will that be enough to put Thome into Cooperstown? Tyler Kepner of the New York Times delves into the topic, pointing out that Thome was never perceived as dominant in his era despite his impressive power numbers.
He also notes that Thome – unlike Rodriguez – is perceived to be a player who was clean during the steroid era, though none of us really know that for sure. This is truly murky territory, and will only make Cooperstown voting more complicated/controversial/entertaining over the next several years. Kepner, though, has some solid advice.
The most logical thing for voters might be to ignore the use of steroids altogether – at least as it pertains to the era before testing – and accept the idea that a large percentage of pitchers and hitters were using drugs and that we will never know exactly who was and who was not. Yet the Hall of Fame ballot specifically instructs voters to consider sportsmanship and character.
These are thorny issues with no clear answers. But, as we can see with Thome, a lot of cases are fascinating — for a lot of reasons.
Amen, Tyler. By the way, the next closest active player to 600 is Manny Ramirez at 554, so things aren’t going to get any clearer any time soon.
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Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.
That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:
It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.
The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.
This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.
Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.
From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.
I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.