Brewers first baseman Eric Thames spent the previous three seasons of his career in Korea playing with the NC Dinos. Once a major league washout, Thames resuscitated his career, smashing 37, 47, and 40 home runs in consecutive seasons in the KBO. That was enough to entice the Brewers to offer him a three-year, $16 million contract.
Thames has showed that the power he found overseas is no fluke. He homered in each of his last four games — including two against the Reds on Saturday — entering Monday’s game against the Cubs. He made it five straight when he hit a homer to the opposite field in the third inning off of John Lackey. According to Baseball Reference, Thames is the first hitter since Brian Dozier last September 2-6 to hit a homer in five consecutive games. He’s the first Brewer to do so since Jeromy Burnitz (August 1-5) in 1997.
Coming into Monday’s game, Thames was hitting .368/.455/.921 with six home runs, 11 RBI, and 12 runs scored in 44 plate appearances. Pretty good. He’s now the major league leader with seven round-trippers.
Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.
Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.
Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.
There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.