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Eric Thames: “I love beer”

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Eric Thames has been the story of the young 2017 season.

After two partial campaigns in 2011 and 2012 with limited success, Thames took off for Korea where he became a superstar, hitting 124 home runs and 379 RBI in three seasons. He won an MVP award and a trip to the KBO All-Star Game. While understanding that KBO is a hitter’s league, he hit .317/.425/.676 with 40 home runs in 2016. In 2015 he was even better, hitting .381/.497/.790 with 47 homers and 140 driven in.

While it did not seem like Thames would land anything other than a minor league deal with an American team this past offseason, the Brewers offered him a major league deal, guaranteeing Thames $16 million. There’s a club option for 2020 at $7.5 million with a $1 million buyout. While that’s not a lot of money these days, it’s a pretty nice deal for a guy with only a KBO track record.

In the early going that investment is proving to have been a fantastic one, with Thames hitting .426/.491/1.000 while leading the league with seven homers and seventeen runs scored in his first 13 games. There’s still a lot of time left in April, but he’s the front-runner for NL Player of the Month.

He’s also winning over the hearts of Milwaukee fans. Or else he should be with quotes like this one taken from a profile of Thames in USA Today:

“I came to Milwaukee before I signed, checked it out, and after an hour I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love the Midwest. I love the hospitality of people. And Milwaukee has great beer.

“I love beer.”

His production will determine whether he stays a fan favorite, but stuff like that will determine whether he becomes a local legend.

Sheldon Ocker named winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Sheldon Ocker the winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 29.

Ocker began covering the Indians for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1981 and did so until 2013, when he retired. He was national president of the BBWAA in 1985 and served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He named Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in 1997 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.