PHILADELPHIA -- A lot has changed in baseball since Jim Thome retired at the end of the 2012 season. He's watched the game become increasingly centered on analytics and numbers. On a more personal level, he's signed every autograph since January with a tiny three-letter acronym: "HOF." Thome's son Landon
PHILADELPHIA -- A lot has changed in baseball since Jim Thome retired at the end of the 2012 season. He's watched the game become increasingly centered on analytics and numbers. On a more personal level, he's signed every autograph since January with a tiny three-letter acronym: "HOF." Thome's son Landon was the first to receive one.
With Landon, the rest of Thome's family and plenty more of his "Phillies family" on hand, the Phillies honored their former slugger and his upcoming Hall of Fame induction with an on-field ceremony before their 9-3 win over the Rockies on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Fans received cardboard cutouts of Thome's head. Thome himself shot hot dogs out of a cannon.
Thome then shared his thoughts on the current state of the game.
"I think there's words that have been thrown out there -- launch angle, you mentioned it earlier, exit velocity, we never knew that," Thome said. "What we knew was how to go to practice and then all those things would fall into place.
"Now, on the new end of things, I think the information that's being out there and thrown at you, it's interesting for our time to learn it and to understand, because maybe in [Landon's] next generation or these young guys that are playing today, they can use it in their toolbox to make them a better player."
Under rookie manager Gabe Kapler, the Phillies, of course, have adopted a more analytically-driven approach that's vastly different compared to when Thome was around. Yet exactly 14 years after Thome hit his 400th career home run at Citizens Bank Park, the 2018 Phils do a lot of the same things he did so often throughout his 22-year career.
Their outlooks about it are not exactly the same.
"Look, the new way is you're never going to hit -- you're never walking to the box thinking, 'OK, I'm going to work the count,'" Thome said.
The Phillies are. It is well known that they want to take pitches, and they've been among the league leaders in pitches per plate appearance all year long. Entering Thursday, the Phils' 10.2 percent walk rate and 26 percent strikeout rate were both highest in the Major Leagues. Thome's 2,548 career strikeouts are second in Major League history. His 1,747 career walks rank seventh all time.
Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.