Nov 19, 2013, 8:31 AM EDT
Frank Thomas is one of the best hitters of my lifetime and that guy should be in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, no question. He’s also a Hall-of-Fame-level call-out-his-contemporaries-on-their-PED-use-guy. Inner circle. He was at it again the other night at a speaking engagement:
“I was the one player who was hurt the most,” said Thomas, who won back-to-back American League MVP awards in 1993 and ’94. “All those years I finished second, third, fourth behind those guys, I probably could have won four more MVPs.”
Fact check time:
- Thomas finished third in 1991 behind Cal Ripken and Cecil Fielder;
- Thomas finished third in 1997 behind Ken Griffey and Tino Martinez;
- Thomas finished second in 2000 behind Jason Giambi; and
- Thomas finished fourth in 2006 behind Justin Morneau, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz
I’ll give him 2000 and Jason Giambi, but for Thomas’ claim of four more MVPs to be true, Cal Ripken, Cecil Fieder, Ken Griffey, Tino Martinez, Justin Morneau and Derek Jeter would have to be juicers. Anyone wanting to take up those arguments, be my guest.
Of course, Thomas’ numbers are so ridiculously good that he need not talk about what could’ve been as far as MVP voting goes. Indeed, if one’s only reason for voting Thomas into the Hall of Fame is that he’s some sort of PED casualty, well, you’re simply not understanding baseball very well. The guy was an absolute monster.
I think there’s a better, more logical story about Frank Thomas and PEDs. It goes like this: If we accept — as I do — Frank Thomas’ claim that he never did PEDs, why do we look at all amazing 1990s hitting stats as some phony PED-creation? One clean guy put up those kinds of insane numbers. Ergo, others could have too. And likely did. The stats aren’t, by necessity, PED-created as many argue.
Could it possibly mean — as I and many others have argued — that the crazy offense of that era had a lot to do with other factors like double expansion, smaller, hitter-friendly ballparks, shrinking strike zones, armor-clad hitters crowding plates with impunity and, possibly, a baseball designed to fly farther? People tend to ignore those things — and ignore guys like Frank Thomas — and blithely chalk up every big number from the 1990s and early 2000s to steroid use, thereby dismissing the accomplishments of those hitters and dismissing the era as a whole.
Frank Thomas did things like hit .353/.487/.729 in a season. And, if we take his word for it, he did it clean. As such, even if Frank Thomas was better than just about everyone else on the planet at what he did, it suggests that others who posted crazy numbers in the 1990s could have done it clean too. Or that, even if they didn’t, their numbers weren’t necessarily leaps and bounds better than they could have achieved without PEDs. It was in the realm of the possible.
Yet no one ever seems to account for that. Funny.
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 0
- Bryce Harper walks in all four of his plate appearances, scores four runs 10
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game 102
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff 128
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 74
- The Marlins are going to change everything except their biggest problem this offseason 53
- Drooling over Miguel Sano’s incredible numbers through 50 career games 35
- Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired 105
- Sarah Palin sticks up for Curt Schilling, tells ESPN to “stick to sports” (266)
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff (128)
- Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired (105)
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game (102)
- David Ortiz tweets his happiness about the Deflategate decision (99)