Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writer (@ColemanBahr)
Eric Thames’ last big league stint was in 2012, where in 86 games he only hit nine bombs and struck out over 30% of the time, a rather unimpressive stat line to say the least.
Then, the slugger cycled through the minor leagues before he signed in the Korean League for the NC Dinos. His Korean League stats were nothing short of other-worldly, smashing at least 37 home runs and 120 RBI’s in every season. He also won the MVP in his second year after slashing .381/.497/.790 with 47 jacks and 147 RBI’s in 142 games.
With his profound Korean League success, it was time for Thames to give the big leagues a second shot. The Milwaukee Brewers gave him an opportunity, signing him to a three-year deal, adding some much-needed left handed power to the lineup. They also got rid of Chris Carter, who bombed 41 homers the year prior. Surely a big bargain for someone that has not yet proven himself when given his opportunity in the league.
However, Thames has been more than they could have ever asked for. Through the clubs first 15 games, he has smashed franchise records, becoming the league’s hottest hitter in the process.
While Thames hasn’t strayed from his strikeout tendencies, striking out 11 times in his first 53 plate appearances, he is still crushing the ball as if he never left Korea. Through 15 games, Thames has six multi-hit games, seven jacks, twelve RBI’s, and a hit in every start thus far.
While some may see regression hitting him like a bus any game now, I would beg to differ. Thames’ plate discipline is night and day compared to his last season in the majors back in 2012. His swinging strike rate has almost cut in half compared to his last big league stint, with his out of the zone swing percentage down from 33.6% to 15.7%, and his contact percentage up from 72.4% to 79.5%. Not to mention, he’s only five home runs from breaking his career high in a season through 13 starts.
Now, I expect him to regress to an extent, as his current pace of 76 homeruns and 130 RBI’s would go down as the best single season in MLB history. But to say he’s going to regress to his old numbers is foolish. Thames made obvious adjustments during his tenure in the Korean League, and now the Brewers are reaping the benefits.