Jim Thome Wins AL Player of the Week

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Jim Thome

The man that has hit more home runs against the Minnesota Twins than any player in the history of baseball is making Twins fans forget all 57 jacks he clubbed against his current team.

After a week in which Thome went 8-20 with four home runs, seven runs, eight RBI, and a whopping 1.628 OPS, he was named AL player of the week on the offensive side of the field Tuesday.

The recent offensive outburst from the former Twin killer is something even Twins management couldn’t have imagined when they signed Thome to the one year, $1.5 million tender late in the offseason, but Thome has taken advantage of recent changes to the lineup that have been partially due to his performance.

Thome has taken over the full time DH role, appearing in that spot six of the last seven games, with the recent move of Michael Cuddyer from right field to third base, thus making room for Thome by moving Jason Kubel out of the DH spot into right field.

These moves unquestionably make the Twins a worse defensive team, as Michael Cuddyer already attempted to fill the Twins third base black hole in 2005, but made 15 errors in 95 games, leading to his successful move to the outfield.

Michael Cuddyer

With Cuddyer giving it another shot, Jason Kubel will have to attempt to play outfield once again.  Before his reconstructive knee surgery in 2004 which caused him to miss the entire 2005 season, Kubel was considered a five tool player.  Since his surgery, Kubel has lost his speed and has always had an inferior arm to Cuddyer.

Despite the Twins rep as a team that prides themselves on great defense, they found it necessary to move these two around in order to find at bats for Jim Thome, and deservedly so.

Thome is proving his worth, as he is second only to Justin Morneau in home runs on the Twins with ten, and ranks as the best in the majors of players with 100+ at-bats in home runs per at bat, with one every 12.8 AB’s.

Can Thome sustain this pace?  With his spotty first half playing time, appearing in only 56 of the Twins first 82 games, one would certainly think it’s possible considering his body is less likely to break down in the second half.  He hasn’t hit .250 since 2007, but since 1996 has finished with less than 30 home runs only twice in a year, and one of those seasons (2005) he only played in 59 games because of a right elbow injury.

The great thing about those stats is that the Twins don’t need Thome to hit .250, if he ends the season hitting that well it’s icing on the cake.  The Twins lineup is loaded with guys that can hit for average (Span, Hudson, Mauer, Morneau), but lacks pop with Mauer, Kubel, and Cuddyer’s power decline from last year.  Thome just needs to do what he does, and that’s hitting the living stuffing out of the ball, and doing so in a park that has yielded only 26 homers to the home team in it’s inaugural year, four of which were to Thome last week.

With a continued increase in his at bats and every day playing time, who knows what the ceiling is for Thome this year.  The last time he got 400+ at bats, a number he could reasonably get to if he continues to DH on a regular basis, he hit 34 home runs, one of which was in Game 163 in 2008 against the Minnesota Twins to end their season.

The way the AL Central is going this year, Thome’s presence may be as important to the Twins as it was for the White Sox in 2008, and Chicago may be on the receiving end of some of the 400 foot daggers the Twins have felt 57 times in Thome’s illustrious career.

-Mike Gallagher

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    You just had to stick it to us there at the end didn’t ya? hahaha, yes, yes well played fellow. But I’ll take your dig as evidence that you’re bitter from the way 08 ended.

    which I’ll take as a compliment.

    Here’s more material for you: what are the sox shopping for? a left-handed bat, preferably to play DH. cuz our DH’s don’t really hit which is a problem. and look wwhat we gave away.

    and to top it all off, Jayson Nix hits like 4 HRs in his first 5 HRs for Cleveland.

  2. paulmbanks says

    I must admit I didn’t see this coming when the Sox gave him away. but he’ll come back to earth. always good for a solid ops though, he’s one of th best in drawing walks and showing plate discipline.

    NICEST guy in the world too. You can try to exaggerate what nice guy Thome is, but I heard this Habitat for Humanity story w him that goes beyond hyperbole.

    An Nix still sucks, his #s will go down.

    I’m still feeling much worse about our chances after the Peavy injury

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