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Frank Thomas: PED encourager

Jan 8, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

This is just great. From Frank Thomas shortly after today’s Hall of Fame announcement:

 

Actually, wouldn’t shock me at all. By most accounts the PED thing — at least at the top end of the talent pool — was spurred on by great guys wanting to be even better because of ego and competitive spirits and things. Barry Bonds was famously reported in “Game of Shadows” to be inspired to take PEDs because he saw McGwire and Sosa getting all the glory in 1998 and was convinced he was better than them. And it wasn’t a “hey, they take drugs so I will too!” It was “they hit bombs so I want to hit MORE BOMBS!”

Thomas hit bombs. Heck, he hit everything. There isn’t a player in baseball during his prime that couldn’t look at him and see a better hitter. Is this statement driven by ego? Maybe a little, but it’s his day. And it’s also driven by no small amount of truth, I imagine.

  1. clydeserra - Jan 8, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    The big stretch.

    I will say this, prior to Thomas’ time* in baseball, I heard repeated by many people that baseball players don’t weight train because big muscles will tighten up their swing and they won’t be any good.
    (its veracity is of course very much in question)

    *by thomas’ time, I mean the era where guys bulked up not necessarily a cause and effect started by thomas’ mere presence.

  2. chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    I think it was Jose’s 1988 40/40 season that propelled us irretrievably into the “Steroid Era”

  3. dadawg77 - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Frank probably also inspired “Moneyball” as he was the prototypical player at that time of waiting for a good pitch and killing it.

    • Marc - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      “Moneyball” as a way of building a baseball team is about identifying a skill or set of skills in the game that the collective of other team builders underestimate in its ability to help a team win. Additionally you must determine what skills are overrated by that same collective and then avoid over-paying for those skills. You then go out and find players that posess that undervalued skill or skills, but also don’t posess overrated skills and use them to economically fill in gaps on your roster. Frank Thomas possessed the ability to draw a great number of walks, which is wonderful and at one time was underrated. But “Moneyball” was about so much else other than guys drawing walks. Thomas certainly had skills that were at one point undervalued, but he also possessed skills that were greatly overvalued like huge RBI totals.

      I think the better statement is Frank Thomas was amazing, and perhaps even underrated in his time because the consensus had yet to realize the power of the walk in baseball, which is something he did very well.

      • billybawl - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:21 PM

        Of course, Frank Thomas was himself an A’s reclamation project in 2006 after two lost seasons in Chicago. Signed to a 1-year contract for $500,000. Turned in a 3.2 WAR and was fourth in MVP voting, despite being basically unable to run.

        Jays paid him about $18M for the following 1+ seasons which combined weren’t as productive as his one full year in Oakland.

      • straightouttavtown - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:24 PM

        WAR is a joke

      • clemente2 - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        No, they were a pretty good band with a great horn section.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:16 PM

        the bluejays are a even bigger joke

      • dadawg77 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        As Frank is my favorite player of all time, I agree with your statement but Frank Thomas was the player who epitomized both the player the A’s were looking and the fact those skills were under appreciated.

        I understand the A’s were looking for market inefficiencies and just simplified the comparison by using Moneyball in quotes.

  4. bigtganks - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Does ANYONE remember Ron Gant’s guns and thighs?? Geez…

    • louhudson23 - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:43 AM

      I remember Ron Gant as a young,solidly built 2B who had some pop. And I remember Ron Gant,swollen beyond his uniform and hitting baseballs a whole lot further than he used to…then I remember Ron Gant deflated and not hitting baseballs as far as the swollen Ron Gant did….or was that Brett Boone? or maybe it was Brady Anderson…oh no,now I remember,it was Javy Lopez….or was that Pudge Rodriguez…gosh,it’s all a HR Derby blur now….what was the question?

  5. cackalackyank - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Frank Thomas is also humble.

  6. straightouttavtown - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Someone help me understand what is so different about Frank Thomas and Fred McGriff. Why is it that Big Hurt is a 1st ballot HOFer and Crime Dog can only get 11% of support? Are the voters that hang up on the artificial 500 career homer metric? Thomas only has 20 something more career homers than McGriff.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:28 PM

      .284/.377/.509
      .301/.419/.555

      If you can’t tell the difference between those two, I’m not sure what I can do to help you.

    • zzalapski - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      There are more stats to gauge a player’s value than just HRs.

    • clemente2 - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      Frank Thomas–OPS+ of 156; bWAR of 73.6.

      Fred McGriff–OPS+ of 134; bWAR of 52.6.

      I think McGRiff is underrated and has a decent HofF argument, particularly with Rice, Dawson, Perez, and a few others put in in the last ten years, but he is noticeably a lesser player than Frank Thomas.

      • psousa1 - Jan 9, 2014 at 8:42 AM

        Definitely McGriff should be in.

    • jcsgonzo22 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Frank is a first balloter because he was a much more dominant hitter than McGriff. I think the crime dog should get in, but no way in hell is he a first balloter. Here this should help clear it up see below.

      Thomas is on a short list of players who have hit 500 home runs while maintaining a career .300 batting average (joining Hall-of-Famers: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and later joined by Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramírez). 2 cheaters don’t really count so that means Thomas put up numbers that have only been matched by 6 other players in the history of the game. Perhaps you should’ve done a little research on The Big Hurt before you tried to say that he wasn’t much better than Fred McGriff.

      Frank’s WAR of 74.3 is even more impressive if you consider that he had to grade out as negatives in all other areas like defense, and base running. His pure offensive WAR was probably in the 100’s

      Thomas was the first player in major league history to win two Silver Slugger awards each at two different positions (1993–94 at first base; 1991 & 2000 as designated hitter).

      He was only the eleventh player in history to win consecutive Most Valuable Player Awards, and the first American League player to do so since Roger Maris in 1960 and 1961.

      He was the third player (Eddie Murray and Hank Aaron) to collect 500 career home runs and 120 career sacrifice flies.

      His 138 walks in the 1991 season was not only the most accrued in a season by any American League player in the 1990s, it was the most for a season by any American League player since 1969 when Harmon Killebrew walked 145 times.

      Thomas’ 0.729 slugging percentage for the shortened 1994 season was the highest season mark for an American League player since Ted Williams’ 0.731 slugging percentage in 1957.

      In the shortened 1994 season, Thomas achieved an on-base percentage of 0.494 which was also the highest season mark for an American League player since Ted Williams’ 0.528 on-base percentage in 1957. No American League player has topped this since.

      Retired as the all-time leader in home runs by a designated hitter, with 269. He is currently 2nd, behind David Ortiz.

      Currently ranks 18th with career 521 HRs.

      Currently ranks 22nd with career 1,704 RBI.

      Currently ranks 24th with a .554 career slugging percentage.

      Currently ranks 4th with 121 career sacrifice flies. He is the only player in Major League history to hit over 100 sacrifice flies and not collect a single sacrifice bunt.

      Thomas is the White Sox Franchise Leader in Homeruns, RBI, Runs, Doubles, Walks, Intentional Walks, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, and On Base Plus Slugging Percentage, among many others.

      If that doesn’t convince anyone I don’t know what will. The fact he only got 83.7% of possible votes is kind of a joke. He was one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time – He definitely deserved to get in on the 1st ballot.

  7. billybawl - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    It’s not like Thomas or even Canseco were the first big, muscular players to have success. I think the inspiration for PEDs came from the weight room. Steroids have been available at gyms for decades. Makes sense that once baseball players started hitting the weights seriously, hanging out at the gym in the offseason and mixing with weightlifters and their trainers, they’d discover and use steroids.

  8. godsmacked1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Frank and Ricky Henderson were never short on humility.

  9. sincitybonobo - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Weak headline. You’re better than that.

  10. dobber707 - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    TAKE THE HALL OF FAME VOTING AWAY FROM LAME REPORTERS IT’S A JOKE PENCIL PUSHING JERKS WHAT DO THEY KNOW. ..

    • scatterbrian - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:51 PM

      What the hell is a pencil?

  11. flyingvien - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I used a pencil last week. Even giggled when I used the sharpener for the first time in about fifteen years.

  12. gridassassin - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Frank was also the only active MLB player to cooperate with the Mitchell Report – never discount that fact.

  13. lanzurrah - Jan 9, 2014 at 5:15 AM

    I’m going to laugh when Thomas eventually gets implicated with PEDs. Everyone took a little of something.

  14. somekat - Jan 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Always like Thomas, 3rd best hitter of his generation (I’ll take Bonds, even pre-juice, and nobody from that era was better than Jr Griffey). Ryan Howard with the ability to hit a breaking ball

  15. nsstlfan - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    With Thomas now being in the HOF that opens it up to Edgar Martinez. With Thomas being more of a DH then a first baseman

  16. braxtonrob - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:06 AM

    Edgar!!

  17. bigkurt6 - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    I am a cubs fan, but I got my nickname from Big Frank. I would not change this nickname for the world!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats Mr. Thomas!!!!!!!

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