Blog Entry

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 3:04 pm

By Matt Snyder

A Major League Baseball player is going to achieve something this season that only seven others in the history of the game have. No, we aren't talking about Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. That was a special moment, especially since no Yankees player had achieved the feat in a Yankees uniform and that he hit a home run en route to going 5-5 on that day. But Jeter became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club. Twins designated hitter Jim Thome currently has 596 career home runs. When he hits No. 600, he'll join just seven others in that much more exclusive club: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

Now, here's how special Thome is. He played during the stained "steroid era" with Bonds, Sosa, A-Rod and Griffey. Griffey and Thome have never been accused of using anything by a credible source nor tested positive. Bonds, Sosa and A-Rod have. It should make us appreciate this impending feat that much more.

Career HR Leaders
Player Total
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez-y 626
7. Sammy Sosa 609
8. Jim Thome-y 596
9. Frank Robinson 586
10. Mark McGwire 583
Instead, the hype doesn't seem to be building nearly as much as it should. Maybe it's because Thome's home runs are pretty spread out now. As he moves into a more limited role, he only has seven this season. Thus, if we hype every single game, we might be waiting through upwards of 100 games in anticipation. That would be exhausting. Maybe the hype gets close to the hype for Jeter once Thome hits No. 599. We'll see, but I suspect it won't get anywhere close.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm part of the media that heavily hyped Jeter's quest for 3,000. If you saw the traffic numbers the Jeter stories drew compared to other stories, you wouldn't blame us. It's New York. It's Derek Jeter. It's a huge milestone. That gets numbers. Plus, I quite admire Jeter. I admire how he's played all these years in the spotlight and drawn nothing but respect from his peers. He's rarely been involved in much controversy, and that's a pretty tough task for 15 years as the face of the sport's most recognizable franchise. So please don't misconstrue this as a complaint against the Jeter coverage. It's far from it. Jeter deserved his coverage.

But take away the New York spotlight element and you could say many of the same things about Thome. In fact, you could say better things. Not only do you never hear an ill word about Thome as a teammate or an opposing player, but he's won the both Roberto Clemente and Marvin Miller Man of the Year awards for his character, sportsmanship and community involvement. He has or will be reportedly putting all 10 of his nieces and nephews through college (Star-Tribune).

On the field, Thome's probably been underrated throughout his career. Despite regressions as he's aged -- he's 40 now -- he still has a career on-base percentage of over .400 (the seventh-highest active mark). His 1,646 RBI place him 28th all time. Why did he only make five All-Star teams and finish in the top 10 of MVP voting four times? Well, because his prime was during the juice era. And as far as all the evidence says, he didn't juice. And there's something to be said for longevity. He hit 25 home runs in just 276 at-bats last season. His prodigious 596th homer shows he still has the power.

Simply put, if you want a true All-Star both off and on the field, you need not look further than Thome. And he's nearing a milestone only a handful of guys have ever done without legitimate accusations of impurity.

Maybe it's because he's playing in a smaller market than New York. Maybe it's because he's bounced around a lot in his career and there isn't one fan base claiming him as their own. Maybe it's because some feel he's just a stat compiler -- which is ridiculous, by the way, since only seven guys have ever compiled this many homers. Or maybe it's just that we're waiting until he gets closer.

Whatever the reason, we need to rectify it. Jim Thome is close to hitting his 600th career home run. He deserves much more of our attention.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:34 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:23 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

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Since: Mar 10, 2010
Posted on: August 15, 2011 9:21 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

Unfortunately it's a fact of life for baseball fans that a Yankee's chase for a career stat is going to get more attention.  Please don't let that diminish what Jim Thome has done.  Look at the other side of the coin.  How about not arguing about East-coast bias (perceived, real or not) on the part of the national baseball media and just take a minute and appreciate how Jim Thome has accomplished his milestone.  He has done it with class, humility, and most importantly, without PEDs.  I am a Reds fan, but first and foremost a baseball fan.  It's refreshing to see someone do what Thome has.  Congrats Jim Thome!

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:43 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

Look. Thome is in the hall without question. Their are players in the hall now that never put the numbers Thome has put up. When the Twins get closer to 1st place in the central and eventually take another divisional crown we'll see more of Thome. If he was playing in NY or Boston we would have had numerous articles about this great HOF player already. Besides the old guy has been on the DL quite a bit so its hurt his chances at getting to 600. But it'll happen.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:48 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention


I don't think you could have taken that paragraph out of context any worse. I don't have an Eastern bias. I live in Indianapolis and have never lived any further East. I'm also not surprised by the numbers because of how many more people live in New York than any other place. And Yankees fans are passionate. That's all I was saying. I was just trying to make sure I didn't look like a hypocrite, so I pointed out I wasn't complaining about the coverage for Jeter. Just want more attention FOR Thome. That's all. It's not a blame game and I'm not pointing fingers. It is what it is.

There was no reason to take that direction.

- Matt

Since: Oct 30, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:42 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

I think Thome has been clean most of his career. He isn't smart enough to juice and get away with it. That makes him one of the greatest HR hitters of all time. He will probably get into the HOF.

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:42 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

It's nice for a member of the media to expose and then explain their bias (towards the Yankees and Jeter)...and not apologize, but almost lambast us fans for caring for the wrong stories, players, heroes.  

Jim Thome has single handedly crushed my team on about ten different occasions, when a home run would totally change the complexion of the game.  I hated him then, but respected him.  I agree with the first ballot HOF.  I know he isn't much of a defender now or ever, but his offensive prowess is impossible to look past.  Two great Home Run hitters of the 90s/00s in Griffey and Thome, and both are overshadowed by cheaters like Bonds/Sosa/ARod.  

Since: May 15, 2011
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:26 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

Without question-- 1st ballot in the Hall.   His two full seasons in the National League are incredible.  Averages of 44.5/118.  That's production in his two full NL seasons.  

Since: Feb 2, 2008
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:04 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

Great article and a great point on Thome and Griffey being the only ones that did not test positive nor having been accused or using anything - that is this steroid era deserves high mark and praise.

My hope is that his contributions to the game both on and off the field are enough to get him into the Hall. In my mind he is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

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