Is Frank Thomas a First Ballot Hall of Famer? Let the Debate Begin

Chris Murphy@@SeeMurphsTweetsAnalyst IFebruary 12, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 2:   Frank Thomas #35 of the Chicago White Sox bats during the game with the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on July 2, 2005 in Oakland, California. The Sox won 5-3. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Yes. Yes. Yes. All of the above.

Pick one.

The question is whether or not Frank Thomas is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

As is the tradition with retired players the second they decide to call it quits, we begin the debate on whether or not Thomas should be immediately escorted into the Hall of Fame.

Thomas is set to announce his retirement Friday, so it's time to glorify him or tear him apart.

It is not a question of if Thomas will enter the Hall of Fame, but a question of when.

Unfortunately, the recent trend does not look good for players who played alongside giant-headed, tiny-testicled counterparts, as seen with the ridiculousness in the fact Roberto Alomar was not allowed into the golden gates of baseball heaven on his first try.

Thomas also has the lack of defense and a lack of love from the nerdlings who write articles for newspapers to go against him.

Excuses and idiotic grudges aside, Thomas is easily one of the top five—probably more like top three—greatest right-handed hitters of all time. With no hint of steroid use, Thomas should get in on his first try.

Let's get the dumb logistics everyone cares about, but in reality are mostly a beauty contest, out of the way: five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger (two at first base, two at DH), two-time AL MVP, 2005 World Series Champion.

The Numbers

Career: .301, 521 HR, 1704 RBI, 1494 R, 2468 Hits, .419 OBP, .555 SLG

His Best Collection of Years

1991: .318 BA, 32 HR, 109 RBI, .453 OBP
1992: .323 BA, 24 HR, 115 RBI, .439 OBP
1993: .317 BA, 41 HR, 128 RBI, .426 OBP
1994 (113 games): .353 BA, 38 HR, 101 RBI, .487 OBP
1995: .308 BA, 40 HR, 111 RBI, .454 OBP
1996: .349 BA, 40 HR, 134 RBI, .459 OBP
1997: .347 BA, 35 HR, 125 RBI, .456 OBP

The one smudge that calls into question Thomas and steroids is his 1998, 1999, 2000 numbers.

1998: .265 BA, 29 HR, 109 RBI, .381 OBP
1999 (135 games): .305 BA, 15 HR, 77 RBI, .414 OBP
2000: .328 BA, 43 HR, 143 RBI, .436 OBP

The problem with investigating via numbers is Thomas tore his tricep playing first base in 2001 and was never the same machine. However, Thomas did hit 42 home runs three years later and 39 home runs six years later while batting .267 and .270, respectively. 

It looks as though he aged naturally for a superstar, unlike others.

What Do Those Numbers Mean?

Let's pull out an odd statistic that puts him in a group with only a select few, but let's make it legit.

People love to search for similar numbers with great players and then add their guy in a false group with them as an excuse for their guy to get into the Hall of Fame. You may have heard this before: "Only (insert their guy), Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays have X home runs and X steals."

What the people don't say is that Bonds has 300 more home runs and Mays has 200 more steals, while both have a ridiculously better batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. But we'll just put our guy's name next to them to make it sound good.

Thou shall not believeth crap without looking deeper into it.

Thomas, however, is in a group with Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams. The group requires you to bat at least .300, hit 500 home runs, drive in 1,500, score 1,000, and walk 1,500 times.

Pretty impressive. The batting .300 category is where you lose a lot of guys you'd think would be in there. It's pretty surprising what players did not or are not at .300 or above for their careers.

In looking at that group, one sees what puts Thomas in the slugger category, but what does not put him in the swing for the fences category. 

Essentially, it puts him in the "one of the most feared hitters of all-time" category because of the fact that he would not help you out Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa-style, on three pitches, but at the same time he would hit the ball just as far as them.

Side note: Thomas is fourth all-time with 121 sacrifice flies (okay, that's a reach for Hall of Fame reasoning, but an interesting stat nonetheless).

If Only...

Two major issues hurt Thomas' résumé a tad: the '94 strike and steroids. In reality, they don't really hurt Thomas, but they would have helped.

In 1994, Thomas was threatening Ted Williams' record for slugging percentage (.731) and on-base percentage (.528) in a season, sitting at .729 and .494, respectively, through 113 games. Not sure people would have even noticed considering no one knew what either of those stats were until recently. 

Steroids not only hurt Thomas because the writers whose job it is to vote act like spoiled brats in a timeout chair with their arms crossed when judging any player who played in the decade. In addition, he would at least have one more MVP (Jason Giambi's) and maybe two (Mo Vaughn's), along with three Silver Sluggers (Vaughn's, Rafael Palmeiro's, Giambi's), if it weren't for those who were Botoxing their butt cheeks.

That Fielding Thing

Thomas played 971 games at first base with a .991 fielding percentage, but the truth was he was awful at first base. He had no range or any quick reaction to anything.

No one ever will mistake him for a Gold Glover.

However, what Thomas lacked in glove skills was clearly made up with his bat. Never in a season when he played first base would you lose more runs from him playing first than you would gain having him at the plate.

Even with steroids, Frank Thomas, along with Ken Griffey Jr., was easily the best hitter in the 1990s.

If baseball writers are going to constantly wonder who was on steroids, perhaps they should also wonder how the clean players would have done without facing those who got butt cheek implants.

You can't point your finger with blurred, tunnel vision.


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