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Friday March 25, 2011 4:22 pm

Is Jim Thome bound for Cooperstown?




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Jim ThomeIn past baseball eras, certain statistics virtually guaranteed a player admittance to the Hall of Fame. 300 wins for a pitcher is a benchmark, but many have started to question whether the time of the 300-win pitcher is over. Similarly, but getting less attention is the 500-home-run plateau for hitters. Only 25 players in history have reached that mark, and every one of those eligible have a place in the Hall of Fame. Three of those 25 are currently active.

Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are another two with more than 500 and few will argue their career credentials when they call it a day, but Jim Thome, the power-hitting DH of the Minnesota Twins, may be the first to truly challenge the Hall of Fame benchmark theory for hitters. With 589 career homers, he’s currently eighth on the all-time list, but other than being a prestigious home run hitter, he’s never been truly outstanding. Is his home run total alone enough to merit his election?

Six times in his career has Thome hit more than 40 home runs with another six seasons with more than 30. He’s accumulated more than 100 walks nine times, but struck out more than 100 times in 15 seasons, and led the league in that stat three times. His career batting average is only .278 and has only recorded 1,624 RBI total. His 2,216 hits is also a rather low number for a Hall of Famer over 20 seasons.

Thome has finished in the top-10 in MVP voting four times in his career, but never higher than fourth overall. He’s also only a five-time All-Star. Coming up as a third baseman with the Cleveland Indians, his career fielding percentage at the hot corner is .940. When he was moved to first base, that number rocketed to .994, yet he’s never won a Gold Glove award. Thome is an exceptional power hitter and has been throughout his career, but at the age of 40, he certainly needs to avoid injuries this season and hit at least 11 home runs to virtually guarantee entry into Cooperstown. Otherwise, he may still become a borderline candidate at best.

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