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Thome Gets a Hall Pass

More on Jim Thome from Mike O'Hara here.

Congratulations are in order for Jim Thome. On Monday night, Thome not only joined the 600 home run club, he did it in a way thatnone of the other seven guys in that club had. He hit numbers 599 and 600 in consecutive at-bats. It is a remarkable achievement, but when you think about it, we should have expected nothing less from a guy like Thome.

He has been playing Major League Baseball for 21 years, has accomplished more than most players in history, and yet his 600th home run has inspired a discussion about something that shouldn't even be a question. Is Jim Thome a first-ballot Hall of Famer? You'll find out very quickly in this blog that you're asking the wrong guy, because in my opinion, Thome was already a first-ballot Hall of Famer even before number 600 shot into the Detroit evening.

For the sake of argument, let's look at this subjectively. From a sheer numbers standpoint, there isn't a lot morethat a guy can do to prove his Hall of Fame worthiness. We know about the 600 home runs. But did you know that Thome is a .277 career hitter? That's 15 points higher than Reggie Jackson. I don't think Mr. October's legacy was questioned. His 1,662 RBI are 153 more than the career mark of Mickey Mantle. Anyone want to call Cooperstown and cast a revote on the Mick? One more of these comparisons: Thome's career OPS is .961. That is an absurd number. So absurd, in fact, that its .020 points higher than Willie Mays.

Now, obviously, I'm not saying that Jim Thome has been the kind of icon that the three men mentioned above were. There is no doubt that Jackson, Mantle, and Mays are legends and had personalities that were bigger than life. Jackson is famed for a confidence that made him the most dangerous man in baseball. Mantle is the greatest player in the history of baseball's greatest franchise, and he was as colorful as they come off the field. Mays was maybe the greatest all-around player in history. Thome? He is a country boy from Peoria, Illinois who put on his hard hat everyday, went to work, hit a lot of home runs, and never made any kind of waves when he left the ballpark. The question is, should he be punished for that? His numbers stack up against some of the greatest players in history, but because there is nothing really dynamic or superstar-esque about the man, some have begun to question if he belongs in the "great player, not a Hall of Famer" category.

If the numbers aren't enough to dispel that notion, perhaps those who think Thome should be kept out of the Hall should check their Twitter feeds from Monday night. I have never seen that many ballplayers all tweet about the accomplishment of one guy in my life. Even when DerekJeter reached 3,000 hits, there wasn't nearly the same outpouring of support and congratulations from his peers as Thome received. Every guy in the League has been adamant not about how great a ballplayer Thome is, but about how great a man he is.

More on Jim Thome from Mike O'Hara here.

Congratulations are in order for Jim Thome. On Monday night, Thome not only joined the 600 home run club, he did it in a way thatnone of the other seven guys in that club had. He hit numbers 599 and 600 in consecutive at-bats. It is a remarkable achievement, but when you think about it, we should have expected nothing less from a guy like Thome.

He has been playing Major League Baseball for 21 years, has accomplished more than most players in history, and yet his 600th home run has inspired a discussion about something that shouldn't even be a question. Is Jim Thome a first-ballot Hall of Famer? You'll find out very quickly in this blog that you're asking the wrong guy, because in my opinion, Thome was already a first-ballot Hall of Famer even before number 600 shot into the Detroit evening.

For the sake of argument, let's look at this subjectively. From a sheer numbers standpoint, there isn't a lot morethat a guy can do to prove his Hall of Fame worthiness. We know about the 600 home runs. But did you know that Thome is a .277 career hitter? That's 15 points higher than Reggie Jackson. I don't think Mr. October's legacy was questioned. His 1,662 RBI are 153 more than the career mark of Mickey Mantle. Anyone want to call Cooperstown and cast a revote on the Mick? One more of these comparisons: Thome's career OPS is .961. That is an absurd number. So absurd, in fact, that its .020 points higher than Willie Mays.

Now, obviously, I'm not saying that Jim Thome has been the kind of icon that the three men mentioned above were. There is no doubt that Jackson, Mantle, and Mays are legends and had personalities that were bigger than life. Jackson is famed for a confidence that made him the most dangerous man in baseball. Mantle is the greatest player in the history of baseball's greatest franchise, and he was as colorful as they come off the field. Mays was maybe the greatest all-around player in history. Thome? He is a country boy from Peoria, Illinois who put on his hard hat everyday, went to work, hit a lot of home runs, and never made any kind of waves when he left the ballpark. The question is, should he be punished for that? His numbers stack up against some of the greatest players in history, but because there is nothing really dynamic or superstar-esque about the man, some have begun to question if he belongs in the "great player, not a Hall of Famer" category.

If the numbers aren't enough to dispel that notion, perhaps those who think Thome should be kept out of the Hall should check their Twitter feeds from Monday night. I have never seen that many ballplayers all tweet about the accomplishment of one guy in my life. Even when DerekJeter reached 3,000 hits, there wasn't nearly the same outpouring of support and congratulations from his peers as Thome received. Every guy in the League has been adamant not about how great a ballplayer Thome is, but about how great a man he is.

That is the most telling statistic. Maybe Thome will never be considered a superstar in the eyes of the fans who didn't root for him and the media who always had a bigger story. But in the eyes of the men who have taken the field of battle with him for the last 21 years, Thome is now, and will always be, a Hall of Famer.

And that's good enough for me.