What makes someone a Hall of Famer in baseball? Is it a number in wins, hits, homeruns, average, strikeouts, awards, championships? Is it longevity? Is it a great relationship with the press? Is it a combination of all of these things?
Jim Thome hit his 600th homerun tonight, becoming the 8th player to EVER reach that milestone. Ahead of him: Sosa, Rodriguez, Griffey, Mays, Ruth, Aaron, and Bonds. While some will argue that Bonds and Sosa will never get in, it is assumed that Griffey and Thome will be locks, as their bodies were more “natural” during the Steroid-Era. One can never assume anything anymore, especially since no one is testing for HGH still. However, Thome has his case solidified at this point, and he would have without hitting the 11 homers he needed coming into the 2011 season.
Thome was a monster for 12 of the last 13 season, he played in just 59 games in 2005 for the Phillies. Over his 21 seasons, his 162 game averages include 102 runs scored, 29 doubles, 39 homeruns, 109 RBI and a .960 OPS. Shamefully, he never won an MVP, even when he posted 52 homers and a 1.122 OPS in 2002 (he finished 7th in AL MVP voting).
Longevity, production…never a winner. His teams never won a World Series, losing in 1995 (Braves) and 1997 (Marlins), the White Sox won the year before he got there, and the Phillies started getting there after he left for Chicago. Chances are, the Twins will become great again when he retires. Not that he had anything to do with it.
Thome is in. We can argue for weeks about the likes of Palmeiro, Sosa, Bonds and others, but Thome will be a first ballot Hall of Famer because: 1) He seems clean and 2) He isn’t a dick. He looks like a regular guy but he certainly wasn’t average. He was long underappreciated and long one of the best players in the game.