Will Eric Thames Keep Up His Hot Start?
As the first month of the baseball season heads towards its conclusion, one name has been commanding the headlines: Eric Thames. Thames was signed by the Brewers this offseason after spending 5 years out of the majors, including the last 3 in Korea. He hit .350 in Korea while hitting 124 homers and knocking in 382 runs. No one expected him to keep those kind of numbers up in the Majors, but here we are.
At the time of the writing of this article, Thames has 10 HRs, including two Monday afternoon against Cincinnati. This puts him on pace for 81 home runs this season, including 33 in his 19 games against the Reds. Those numbers are pretty much incomprehensible, as only Barry Bonds has come within 10 of that number, with his 73 home run season in 2001. His start has even got Cubs SP John Lackey to imply that he was on steroids, telling reporters that Thames’s home run against him was “[That’s] kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head,” while winking at the reporter asking the question. Many questions are left unanswered about Thames’s historic start, including the big one, will he keep this up?
The quick answer to this question is no, it is practically impossible for Thames to keep this up. Hitting a home run every other game is something no one has ever been able to pull off, as 63 is the most number of home runs someone has hit in a season without being on steroids.
It is very easy to get paranoid about steroids in this current age of baseball, especially after the Biogenesis scandal in 2013 which saw Thames’s teammate, Ryan Braun, suspended. However, there is no reason to believe that Thames is on steroids, as the MLB’s “random” testing would have surely had him tested by now.
There is also, however, no reason to believe that Thames will keep this production up. Of his 10 home runs, 7 have come against Cincinnati. Last season, the Reds set the major league record for home runs allowed in a season, letting up 258 home runs. So far this season, the Reds have put up more of the same, allowing the 3rd most HRs in the league at this time of writing.. The Brewers have also played a lot of their schedule so far against the Reds, against which Thames has by far his highest output.
Milwaukee hit the jackpot with Thames this offseason, and he has rewarded them massively to start the season. In fact, when you look at the analytic that states that one WAR is equal to $8 million, Thames has already been worth his full 3 year contract for Milwaukee. However, there is no inclination, nor is there really any chance that he keeps up this start throughout the entire season.