A Dying Breed

Jim Thome is, as of right now, the last great of a dying breed.

If you’re sitting in front of your computer guessing, it isn’t the exclusive 600 home run club that Albert Pujols will be a part of in no time.

Thome is the last great of a breed that used to be restricted to a special few until science got involved. Thome was blessed with this God-given gift until science got involved.

Jim Thome is the last great of the true home run hitters breed. He is the last great of a group who hit the ball that the chicks dig. When you think of the Jim Thome’s of the world there is no initial thought that crosses your mind other than ‘home run.’

Albert Pujols hits home runs but he is Mr. Consistency. The man without a hole in his swing. A player who hovers around the 200 hit plateau each and every season. When you think Albert Pujols, you might think greatest player in baseball.

Adam Dunn is the birth defect version of Jim Thome. The big lug who swings for the stars and hits bombs as high as the stars. The strikeouts are forgotten when these big men connect because they are what make baseball so special.

As the steroid era dies so does this extraordinary breed of home run hitters. Jim Thome would have been more appreciated if not for the massive influx of hitters who could hit the ball into McCovey Cove. To the best of our knowledge, Jim Thome was all-natural in his home run hitting.

If you take a look at the home run leaders for the 2011 season you won’t find anyone as great as Jim Thome in terms of his breed.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard. When all is said and done, these guys won’t measure up to what Jim Thome has done in his career. Prince Fielder won’t hit 25 home runs in limited at bats at the age of 39. Ryan Howard is going to be 32 years old in November and hasn’t even reached 300 home runs. They were bred like Jim Thome but will never duplicate what he has done.

Jim Thome’s don’t come along every decade. Major League Baseball only has 5 true players who have hit over 600 home runs in over 130 years of baseball.

Jim Thome’s consistent and realistic decline as a player is the indisputable sign of a pure bred home run hitter. In a 12 year span from 1996-2008 Jim Thome only reached 50 home runs in a season once but he was never below the 30 big fly mark.

In the coming years we will come to appreciate Jim Thome for the player he was. The rarer the flower the sweeter it is will be a phrase that will go hand in hand with his legacy.

The home run hitter’s breed will never die but there is no doubt that it has once again become endangered.

Major League Baseball won’t go without another great home run hitter in the future but with steroid’s being a thing of the past the odds are that it might be a little while before we see another as good as Jim Thome.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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33 Responses to A Dying Breed

  1. Pingback: A Dying Breed, MLB | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. chappy81 says:

    I saw an interview with Thome on MLBTV last night, and he was talking about how he’s been doing it all these years. He pointed to Frank Thomas’s advice in Chicago telling him to never lose his opposite field stroke. It might be a long time till we see another version of Thome if ever, but I’m sure we will eventually.

  3. tophatal says:

    Chris

    No tinge of controversy has surrounded Thome’s career and I think he’ll be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame !

    tophatal ………..

  4. Sorry but Thome is not a Hall of Famer. Great home run hitter and person, but not a great all-around player no matter the era. But just watch the media try to “idolize” him right into the hall.

  5. I agree with Charles. Thome is as solid as they come in just one category. And for me, and hopefully the baseball writers, they will consider that when comparing him to the greatest sluggers of the game. Aaron, Bonds, Mays, Schmidt – all of these guys dominated the sport due to their versatility.

    I can honestly say that I have never once considered Thome as being the best at any one thing over ths course of his career.

    Nonetheless, 600 is awfully impressive!!

  6. buddad1957 says:

    Can’t disagree with a word your wrote Chris. I think hitting 600+ home runs is enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. No doubt about that.

  7. mauerfan says:

    Good stuff, Thome is for sure the last of a dying breed. Country strong.

  8. Hey Chris,
    Nice post. Enjoyed your take on the big man. I think you’re right that we may not see someone like Jim Thome for a while.

  9. jclem07 says:

    Thome is a 1st ballot Hall of Famer! No doubt in my mind about that.

    Pujols might be the next clean guy to hit that milestone.

  10. Thome, nice guy and all, is not a great all-around player worthy of inclusion in the Hall of Fame. No one else on the 600 HR list hit a significant amount of their homers as a DH; they were/are everyday position players. I’ve got nothing against him, and 600 HRs is quite an accomplishment, but I’ve seen everyone from Mays on down and Thome’s not in the others’ class as an all-around player. He just isn’t.

  11. jt says:

    Thome had the quietest 600 hrs ever. I’m happy for him, the media show him more love ppl don’t hit there 600th everyday. Good player will get in the hof I just don’t think 1st ballet.
    http://wp.me/pVcMf-w0

  12. I disagree with C. Freeman above.

    Thome’s a Hall of Famer.

    He’ll definitely become a Hall of Famer as Major League Baseball starts looking to players to induct that aren’t in any way associated with the steroid scandal.

  13. Other than 600 home runes, which I admit is quite an accomplishment, and by all accounts, is a good guy, why is Thome a HOFer? Did he ever lead the league in any of the Triple Crown categories? Was he a Gold Glove 1B or even one of the top fielders at that position? Was he a MVP? Did he ever lead a team to playoff success?

  14. gjmcrae says:

    Yes this is rare that Jim Thome has been around this long and flown under the radar, you here more about the high profile suers and abusers. Seems that MLB is looking for the american pie guys to save the league.

  15. Got to disagree with Charles L. Freeman. Thome was so good at hitting that his lack of doing anything else is overshadowed. Sorry, but he’s a first ballot HOFer.

  16. No MVPs, no rings, .277 BA, 27th in RBIs, no standout moments that any writer or fan can recall = Thome not being a Hall of Famer and definitely not being a first ballot one.

  17. gjmcrae says:

    Thome has average stats but in a era filled with doping he is consistent with the five MLB teams he has played for. He is in a smaller market and continues to be over shadowed by the major markets, he could make it on the first ballet keep in mind the list he could be on.

  18. The ultimate irony of this essay and the many other articles since Thome’s 600th home run is that if he was such a sure-fire HOFer, none of this discussion would be neccessary. As someone, I believe it was Bob Costas, once said, “If you have to ask, ‘is ____________ a Hall of Famer’, he probably isn’t.”

  19. gjmcrae says:

    Well true hall of famers let there character speak for them as well, but there are many debates and questions of who are famers. But looking forward since the doping scandal alot of names have fallen of the ballot. I tink the part we are missing here you could be talk to about history or mentioned in history

  20. Stressing the fact that Thome hit 600 home runs as his sole qualification as a Hall of Famer ironically validates the “Steroids Era” (people always say “Bonds was a Hall of Famer even without the homers”) because other than that, he doesn’t have a career worthy of even being considered for the Hall. No rings, no MVPs, no Gold Gloves, a middling .277 career batting average, not in the top 20 in any other category and the fact that since 2005, he’s played less than 25 games in the field is not, in my opinion as a baseball fan since 1964, a Hall of Fame career. And the fact that everyone keeps stressing what a “nice guy” Thome is irrelevant.

  21. gjmcrae says:

    So as a fan of baseball in the 60’s you can respect the argument some have of there selections to the hall of fame. Frank viola has a ring along with a cy young award, cal ripken got in cause he was the MLB poster man so you have a argument for the players of the Negro leagues some with tremendous stats. In short you get in for your popularity perfered to performance.

  22. Gjmcrae, try as I might, I couldn’t follow your last post even with a GPS. This will be my last post on the subject – to me, Thome IS NOT a Hall of Famer. And nothing anyone says or writes will change my mind.

  23. gjmcrae says:

    My last post as well notable names without rings and awards have made the ballot and got in. But nominations are not about the game but popularity as a fan for sometime you have seen MLB develop frank viola and several negro league players are not in cooperstown just a example. If it is meant to be then it will be there are several cases. Thank you for your insight

  24. I know I said I’d made my last post on this thread, but gjmcrae, you DO NOT know baseball and shouldn’t argue with someone who does like me. Frank Viola is not in the HOF while Cal Ripken Jr is in the HOF because along with breaking what was long thought to be an unbreakable record, he’s one of the greatest players in MLB history and in fact, was named to the All-Century team in 1999. By the way, he also won a WS ring in 1983. But, let’s go further with HOFers who didn’t win rings like, oh say, Tony Gwynn: 15 time All-Star, Gold Glove winner 1986-1991, 8 times led the NL in hitting (only Ty Cobb lead a league more times) 1987-89 and 1994 (.394) – 1997, .338 career BA (19th all-time), .987 career fielding %, 18th all-time in hits with 3,141.

    • Chris Ross says:

      I’ve been busy so I just got around to this conversation/argument and I have to say it is quite enjoyable. I personally think that 600 home runs is such a special accomplishment that it should alone be reason enough and I do realize that you disagree with that Charles. You’re right, being a nice guy is irrelevant in this discussion because it has nothing to do with what kind of player he is. However, what he has done in his career has been accomplished by so few.

      Joe Posnanski of SI makes a really good case. Of note –Thome’s .277 average may not be spectacular but it beats out Hall of Famers such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Reggie Jackson, Also, as mentioned above, he has a .403 career OBP, which apparently is good for 25th all time among players with at least 7500 AB’s.

      Here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://joeposnanski.si.com/2011/08/16/thome-2/

  25. gjmcrae says:

    My last post you said rings would get you in my point was Frank has a ring and is not in but gwynn is. Anyone with a computer can know look up stats, Rick Ferrell catcher 1929-1947 inducted in 1984 no gold gloves or rings.

  26. gjmcrae says:

    Shall i continue there is list as long as the MLB positive drug testing, I guess someone doesnt know as much about baseball. We have to befans of the sport not the highlights or stats.

  27. Reggie Jackson helped win 5 World Series rings and Cal Ripken Jr is arguably the greatest shortstop of all-time. Thome may not have used PEDs, but he played in an era of smaller ballparks and when the ball was, in many people’s opinions, also juiced. His 600+ HRs aren’t the same as say, Mike Schmidt’s 548 or Frank Robinson’s 586 which were hit in an era when parks were on the whole, much harder to hit the ball out of. There’s simply no argument that anyone can make that changes my mind on Thome being a HOFer. He’s simply a one-dimensional player in an era of inflated numbers.

  28. Matt Anello says:

    Nice post. Thome is one of my favorite players mostly because he’s a class act. He’s accomplished everything clean in a steroid-plagued era, that says a lot. 600 home runs in no joke, just look at the names on that list. Granted, some of them were roid users but that just makes Thome’s accomplishment all the more astounding. Definitely a Hall of Famer.
    http://manello33.wordpress.com/

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