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Next up on march to 600 homers: Jim Thome

Aug 5, 2010, 12:10 AM EDT

Now that Alex Rodriguez has reached the 600-home run club, it’s time to look at who’s next.

Jim Thome, you’re up.

The Minnesota Twins slugger, who turns 40 on Aug. 27, has 13 home runs in 74 games this season and 577 over the course of his 20-year career. At his current pace, he should finish with about 584 or so this season, putting him in 600 territory at some point next season.

But will that be enough to put Thome into Cooperstown? Tyler Kepner of the New York Times delves into the topic, pointing out that Thome was never perceived as dominant in his era despite his impressive power numbers.

He also notes that Thome – unlike Rodriguez – is perceived to be a player who was clean during the steroid era, though none of us really know that for sure. This is truly murky territory, and will only make Cooperstown voting more complicated/controversial/entertaining over the next several years. Kepner, though, has some solid advice.

The most logical thing for voters might be to ignore the use of steroids altogether – at least as it pertains to the era before testing – and accept the idea that a large percentage of pitchers and hitters were using drugs and that we will never know exactly who was and who was not. Yet the Hall of Fame ballot specifically instructs voters to consider sportsmanship and character.

These are thorny issues with no clear answers. But, as we can see with Thome, a lot of cases are fascinating — for a lot of reasons.

Amen, Tyler. By the way, the next closest active player to 600 is Manny Ramirez at 554, so things aren’t going to get any clearer any time soon.

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  1. Buccofan - Aug 5, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    Thome was never with the Yankees or Red Sox, not even the Cubs, Braves, or Dodgers. How can he possibly be HOF material?

  2. Buccofan - Aug 5, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    Correction, he was with the Dodgers briefly.

  3. smokehouse - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:17 AM

    How the hell can you keep a 600 homer player out of todays HOF? You can’t.

  4. Kevin R - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    Nice try on the Red Sox bias thing, Buccofan, but 36 HOFers played for Pittsburgh at some point and 32 for Boston (per mlb.com). (And 9 have the Red Sox as their “primary team”, compared to 12 for the Pirates). So you should be saying that since Thome never played for the Pirates, he must not be HOF material.

  5. Mike d - Aug 5, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    This just shows how Bonds, A-rod etc. Actually hurt all of baseball Thome has always been considered a class act and as pointed out has not been suspected of steroids he is a first ballot HOF in my opinion.

  6. minnesconsin_ad - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    i think Thome will be a first ballot guy, even if he ends up retiring after this year with 580-something.

  7. browniebuck - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Surprised that nobody asks questions about Thome and ‘roids…anyone remember him when he first came up with the Tribe?

  8. Chipmaker - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    The “character” notation is there in the consideration guidelines, but it’s horserot. No one votes for character, they only use it as an excuse not to vote for a candidate.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 5, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Thome will get in because he has never been linked with Steroids and he is OF COURSE deserving with his numbers. He is 17th ALL TIME in OPS with a career .400 OBP LOL. If he ended his career TODAY, with only(only??) 577 home runs, he would have to be a first-ballot shoo-in.

  10. minnesotaboy - Aug 7, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    okay there are a ton of players who didnt play for those teams who made the HOF. Thome will be one of those people. hes a great player there is no way you can keep a guy who is number 10 in all time home runs out of the HOF.

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