Jim Thome

The reactions to Jim Thome’s 600th are just as interesting as the feat itself


I offered to my congratulations to Jim Thome on his 600th home run in the recaps this morning. In response, my Twitter friend Ross offered the following:

You say congrats to Thome but with your way [i.e. my not liking the DH]  he would have never got 600. This is why I like the DH, hitters keep hitting.

My response:

Hey, we can simultaneously (a) wish the world was different; but (b) appreciate the joys that result from the way it is.

To which Ross responded:

I think you inadvertently explained the popularity of Jersey Shore in a profound way.

Yikes. My apologies for providing intellectual cover for more bad TV.  I feel kinda dirty now.

But it’s OK, because this is all part of a greater “what we’re supposed to feel about Jim Thome’s 600th home run” conversation that has been brewing today.  On the one hand, we have a lot of the expected “Jim Thome is a great guy who is corn-fed and country strong and isn’t this all swell stuff.”  We also have some “man, I’m tired of this ‘Jim Thome is a great guy who is corn-fed and country strong and isn’t this all swell stuff'” stuff. The whole idea/backlash thing is pretty much what the internet is made for, so this isn’t unexpected.

And of course some are trying to put it in statistical context, which inevitably takes some of the magic away, which some of you will think is awful and some of you will like just fine.

At times like these — milestones, I mean — I’m more and more inclined to remember the beer and think more in terms of celebrations than assessments.  We’ve had the chance to assess Thome’s career and character for the past 20 years. When it’s time to start talking about his Hall of Fame case, we’ll have the chance to assess it objectively then too (though, as the link makes clear, we should remember the beer some then too).  But on the day after something happens, hey, good on the guy.

But not Ryan Howard. I’ll go after that guy until I draw my last breath and make a point to never celebrate his accomplishments no matter how lofty they are.*

*Note: may be an exaggeration

MVP or not, Mike Trout’s place in history is secure

Mike Trout
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Mike Trout may not win another MVP award, because Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays had a great season and voters seem to be leaning his way, but the Angels center fielder just completed his fourth MVP-caliber campaign in four full seasons as a major leaguer.

Trout has now either won the MVP or (presumably) finished runner-up at age 20, age 21, age 22, and age 23. And there were certainly cases to be made that he was deserving of all four MVP awards. It’s been an incredible start to a career. But how incredible?

Here are the all-time leaders in Wins Above Replacement through age 23:

37.6 – Mike Trout
36.0 – Ty Cobb
34.2 – Ted Williams
31.4 – Mel Ott
30.1 – Ken Griffey Jr.
29.7 – Mickey Mantle
27.7 – Alex Rodriguez
27.5 – Al Kaline
26.7 – Arky Vaughan
26.5 – Rogers Hornsby

I mean, just look at the 10 names on that list. Ridiculous, and Trout sits atop all of them.

Trout has been the subject of intense MVP-related debates in three of his four seasons, but regardless of which side of that coin you favor don’t let it obscure the fact that we’re witnessing something truly special here. There’s certainly room to quibble with the exact rankings–WAR is merely one prominent and easy way to do such things–but however you slice it Trout has been one of the best handful of players in the history of baseball through age 23.

Orioles say re-signing Chris Davis is “a top priority”

Chris Davis
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Last week impending free agent Chris Davis expressed frustration that the Orioles had not approached him about a contract extension during the season, pointing out that the team had previously locked up other players like J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones mid-season.

Now that the season is over and Davis had another monster year Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that re-signing Davis is “a top priority” and added:

He’s had a great year and he’s been a great player for us, so obviously, we’d like to have him back. Whether we can do that in the market, that remains to be seen, but we’re going to try.

Davis is 29 years old, has some defensive versatility, and has led the league in homers in two of the past three seasons while posting an .891 OPS during that time. He’s going to get plenty of huge multi-year offers and based on some of Duquette’s other quotes within Encina’s article it sure sounds like the Orioles are preparing for life without him.