Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 1, 2006
BASEBALL: Thames and the Tyne

Through yesterday's action, Marcus Thames - subbing for the injured-again Dmitri Young - is batting .289/.632/.357, with 4 homers in 38 at bats. Those kind of slugging numbers are nothing new for the 29-year-old Thames - here are his totals at AAA and in the majors since 2004 (minor league stats via The Baseball Cube):

TeamGABH2B3BHRRRBIBBKSB-CSDPAVGSLGOBP
Toledo1374991673944611011574998-210.335.705.419
Detroit1123107415021435527850-13.239.490.308

As to his numbers at Toledo - Wow. And remember, this is the International League, not the high-altitude Pacific Coast League. If you can slug .707 there in almost 500 at bats, even as a 28-year-old, you can hit. Unsurprisingly, Thames has carried that slugging to the majors, slugging close to .500, but it's his plate discipline that's been more lacking against major league pitchers. I'm not suggesting Thames would be a star if he got a longer big-league trial, but Dmitri Young has batted .270/.467/.327 over the same three-year period, and Young makes a lot more money than Thames does; I have little doubt that Thames could easily replace the production the Tigers are getting from Young.

More baseball notes from the weekend:

*Speaking of the Tigers, as I mentioned in my preseason preview, although they are off to a good start, they remain a better source of Rotisserie players than real baseball - they have seven guys on pace for between 577 and 629 at bats and between 156 and 194 hits. And four of their five starters have ERAs of 3.77 or lower, with the fifth at 5.04; Jim Leyland has clearly taken the old-manager tack of setting an ironclad rotation and lineup and sticking with it, and thus far it's working out well.

*Time to send Jorge Julio back to Norfolk, not that it wasn't three weeks ago; not only did Julio predictably implode when put into a 2-run game against Atlanta, he helped add to a great, confidence-building day for struggling Braves slugger Jeff Francouer. Until Julio can prove he can blow away AAA hitters, he has no business in the majors. As for the Mets, 2 out of 3 in Atlanta isn't bad, but the key is doing it again this weekend, after which they will see the Braves for only three games until September.

*The Yankees put on quite the show Saturday, scoring in each of the 8 innings they batted; I'm no expert on the code of ballplayers, but I have to think that Toronto wasn't thrilled with Johnny Damon taking an extra base (i.e., scrambling all the way from home to second) on a dropped infield popup in the 8th inning with a 16-6 lead. Joe Torre was properly impressed with Damon's hustle, but that's the kind of thing that sometimes rubs people the wrong way in a blowout.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:41 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Crank:

You write that, "his plate discipline that's been more lacking against major league pitchers." I believe that usually when people refer to plate discipline they are referring to walk rate. In this case Thames' walk rate has more or less held up (I'm defining walk rate as OBP-BA). It was 8.4% in AAA and 6.9% in MLB - close enough given the improved quality of the pitching in the majors. It's more that his batting average has declined. What would be the explanation of a declining batting average given a less noticable decline in either power or walk rate? Maybe he's swinging with a greater upper cut in the majors to hopefully impress the brass and get a chance at long last to stick?

Posted by: Aryeh at May 1, 2006 11:24 AM

Well, not only has the walk rate fallen perceptibly, but his K rate has gone way up - it's the combination of the two.

Posted by: The Crank at May 1, 2006 11:35 AM

As for Julio, I want him to stay up, so he can supply comedy in Met blowout losses.

Posted by: Mike at May 1, 2006 11:57 AM

An observation:

Interesting how more thoughtful Sox and Mets fans nevertheless give in to their primal desires when praising the Yankees.

For instance, Simmons praised Rivera last week to the sky, but all w/in the context of a Rivera blown save against Minnesota a few weeks back.

And Crank acknowledges the Yankees' bashfest on Saturday, but remarks specifically only on Damon's too conspicuous hustle.

Straussians, and Yankees fans, see a Red Sox fan making a future Sox triumph over Mo all that much more delicious for himself; and a Mets fan sowing the moral ground for a Pedro heater at Damon's head.

Posted by: seamus at May 1, 2006 1:02 PM

I got to see Thames a lot in Toledo. It was scary when he was at the plate and I was on the third base side. The balls would be hit real hard, a la Sheffield. And his homers were not cheap, just over the fence ones either. I'm glad to see him up in the big leagues.

Posted by: rbj at May 1, 2006 1:37 PM

Jorge Julio ..hee, hee....I mean that's too bad...and after Benitez, DeJean and Jorge, I don't want to get too greedy but can the Mets do the O's one more favor and express an interest in Brower?

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at May 2, 2006 7:58 PM
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