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ESPN's SportsNation Question Today


AndrewPF

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Hi guys-

I know this is originally from a poll on another site, but I wanted to post it in Sports in General rather than Polls because I think it would be a good discussion topic, and nobody would see it in Polls.

As you can see in the subtitle, the question at hand is Is Jim Thome one of the best players of his era? At the time of posting, the results so far stand at 62% yes and 38% no, from 36,073 votes. I for one am pretty surprised that even this early, the percentage of "no" votes is so high.

I've always thought that Thome was one of the best players I'd seen in my lifetime, but he didn't get a lot of the recognition because he's not a one-man media circus, and he seems like the type of player who fits into his role on the team quietly. I see him as the kind of guy who shows up at the ballpark and excels at his job without attracting the same attention as, let's say Barry Bonds or Derek Jeter for whatever reason. You could say he seems to fit into more of a supporting role, rather than a leading role in a ballclub. The fact that he's understated has translated into his being overlooked and underrated.

What do you think?

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I agree that Thome deserves a whole lot more recognition than he has had up until now. Who has been better than him in this era? I think that would be a pretty short list.

It depends on what feel is better. If your throwing out everyone that's been accused of PED's it is a short list.

If were including them though, that's a bit longer.

Guys better then Thome in my opinion that played when he did. And this is only position players and I'm including guys with PED track records.

Barry Bonds

Ivan Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Craig Biggio

Ken Griffey

Frank Thomas

Roberto Alomar

Mike Piazza

Albert Pujols

Todd Helton

Chipper Jones

Jeff Bagwell

Barry Larkin

Derek Jeter

Rafael Palmeiro

To me those guys are better guys and I would say pretty easily better. This would be what I would call the debatable section of guys. Some may put Thome ahead, some may not. Some I think are better then Thome, some I don't.

Scott Rolen

Jeff Kent

Edgar Martinez

Bernie Williams

Jason Kendall

Manny Ramirez

Ichiro

Fred McGriff

Gary Sheffield

Larry Walker

Mark McGwire

Miguel Tejada

If remove the guys with PED ties he might be in the top ten. If you don't, I have a hard time saying he is.

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I don't think will ever see a guy get to 600 home runs as quietly as he has. I mean, to look and see that Jim Thome is #8 on the all-time home run list is kind of odd. But yeah, I feel he's definitley one of the top players of this era. He's clean and never been accused of using PED's, he's just the blue collar type player, putting in the work and not caring about the flash, the glamour or money. I'd rather have him on my team than a lot of those guys listed above because he's the type of person that makes everyone on the team better, the type that you can just watch how he goes about his work and see that that's the way you should do it, not trying to find anyway to give you an edge over someone else.

In probably a better question, I would definitely rate him as the most underrated player of this era, maybe one of the most underrated of all time.

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Being a "top" guy is about more than hitting 40 HR and driving in 130 runs. It's about being able to put the team on your back, and being a leader both on and off the field. Jim Thome is neither of those things. There are the quiet types who are able to lead by example, and then there's Thome, who is just kind of "there". By all first hand accounts, he never said a word to teammates who slacked off, didn't run out balls, didn't take games seriously, fought with each other, etc. He is quiet to a fault, and is unwilling to engage in any kind of confrontation.

To his credit, unlike a lot of "bumpkin"-esque players, he didn't back away from the big city media nor did he "shrink" up - he stayed the same no matter where he was, which can't be said about every player. He is clearly a HOFer and a great player, but I can't rank him as one of the best of his era because I really don't think that he is a "winner" - a guy that can lead you to the promise land.

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Ah, that's a good point too. Adds a whole other dimension to the discussion.

If we were going just on skill as a ballplayer and not as a leader personality, does that put him back near the top?

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Coming into this season, Adam Dunn had a pretty good shot at 500-600 home runs. Considering how bad he has been this season, who knows where his career is heading. But even before this awful season, Jim Thome was a far better hitter than Adam Dunn, who isn't even CLOSE to being a Hall of Fame worthy player. If Dunn does reach 500-600 home runs, he should be the first 500 home run guy with no ties to steroids who should NOT get in.

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Ah, that's a good point too. Adds a whole other dimension to the discussion.

If we were going just on skill as a ballplayer and not as a leader personality, does that put him back near the top?

I have never considered Thome to be a 'ballplayer' as he has spent more then 90% of his time in the major leagues as a DH, which means he is nothing but a glorified pinch hitter who just happens to stay in the lineup but because he is such a :censored:ty fielder, gets out of actually having to y'know show that he has any actual skills in the field.

The proper question should be, is Thome one of the best hitters of his era. Again, the answer is no, because the best hitters don't average 162 strikeouts a year.

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He's this generation's Jim Rice. Comes out, does his job, does it well, but he has nowhere near the cache or starpower of other guys on the team.

He'll also be like Roger Maris. He'll be remembered for what he did, but he won't make the Hall. He'll have a wall dedicated to him in a mall in his hometown, and he'll be a historical footnote. Good player, not an All-Timer.

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He's this generation's Jim Rice. Comes out, does his job, does it well, but he has nowhere near the cache or starpower of other guys on the team.

He'll also be like Roger Maris. He'll be remembered for what he did, but he won't make the Hall. He'll have a wall dedicated to him in a mall in his hometown, and he'll be a historical footnote. Good player, not an All-Timer.

He's better than Jim Rice, 41.5 rWAR vs. 71.1 rWAR, and he'll easily get into the Hall, you aren't paying attention to the people who actually do the voting. Maris had one insane season, Thome has had a great career. Not a good comparison at all.

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He'll have a wall dedicated to him in a mall in his hometown,

I am speaking on good authority here: No.

/The softball/baseball complex in his high school's town though...

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He's this generation's Jim Rice. Comes out, does his job, does it well, but he has nowhere near the cache or starpower of other guys on the team.

He'll also be like Roger Maris. He'll be remembered for what he did, but he won't make the Hall. He'll have a wall dedicated to him in a mall in his hometown, and he'll be a historical footnote. Good player, not an All-Timer.

He's better than Jim Rice, 41.5 rWAR vs. 71.1 rWAR, and he'll easily get into the Hall, you aren't paying attention to the people who actually do the voting. Maris had one insane season, Thome has had a great career. Not a good comparison at all.

WAR is good if were talking about compairing guys in the same era and guys at the same position. Cross compairison of eras and position though it breaks down. I guarentee you if you look at average WAR numbers especially amongst position players you will see much higher numbers when Thome played then when Jim Rice played. Another good example of this is the guy one spot in front of Thome on the all-time list. That's Johnny Bench. If you buy into WAR as the be all end all of who's the better player then Jim Thome and Johnny Bench are just about on the same level of ability. I got a real hard time believing that. Johnny Bench may be the greatest catcher of all-time. Certainly in the discussion even if you don't agree. Jim Thome isn't even close to being the greatest first baseman of all-time. I don't even think he's the best first baseman of his era. I think guys like Helton, Thomas, Bagwell and Pujols are much better players.

So there's alot of problems with it. I think WAR is a very a good stat, but its not the be all end all as some people try to make it out to be.

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How many other players have hit 600 home runs without steroids? Enough said. First ballot Hall of Famer. Was he the best of his era? No. Was he one of the best? Well only Aaron, Ruth, Mays, and Griffey, Jr. have hit 600 home runs without steroids. I'm sorry anyone who thinks Jim Thome is not a Hall of Fame player, is a fool. Anyone who says that he was a DH, shows their lack of intelligence. He only became a DH when he joined the White Sox, before that he was a 3B and 1B for the Indians and played 1B for the Phillies. He played 16 years in the field and was a good fielder. Was he a gold glove fielder? No. But bring all the cutesy and made up stats that people who never played the game created. He is a Hall of Famer and there's nothing your stats or even your opinions can do about that!

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Another stat worth remembering is that Thome has got to 600 with fewer at bats than anyone except Babe Ruth. The guy should be a first balloter, if only as a way of saying 'look it can be done without steroids'. (Though personally I think the steroid guys ought to get in as well. And so should Pete Rose. But those are both different conversations.)

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With the exception of his move from Cleveland to Philadelphia, he was moved around a few times for little compensation and not by his choice. Does that happen to many HOFers (serious question, not rhetorical?) I know it does at the end for some, but despite his injury, he was still in decent shape when the Phillies moved him (and paid a ton of his salary) to Chicago to make room for Ryan Howard.

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The way I look at it is this: Baseball is one of the most unconsistent and unpredictable games on the planet. Many of the players Thome played with in his era of ball have had good, even great years, but because the sport is so hard, not many of those players have put together great careers. Especially in the age of technology we are in, where teams can utilize God-knows-what to figure out a player's strengths and weaknesses, it is very tough for a player to remain successful for an entire career. But despite all of this, Jim Thome remained a good or great player in every year that he played, and put together a great career, which few players he played with can say. So was Thome one of the top-tier players in the league every year? No. But when you look at the numbers of a player's entire career over that span he played, he was a top-tier player. He was consistently good year in and year out, and for that reason, I consider him Hall of Fame worthy.

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