The 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot has plenty of worthy contenders to join the Hall of Fame this upcoming year. 14 players are returning to the ballot, and 19 new players have been listed on the ballot. Jim Thome started his baseball career at third-base before moving to first base. Thome is very deserving of a spot in Baseball’s Hallowed Hall.
Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland had this to say about Thome regarding his 599th homer, “Certainly that’s a Hall of Fame achievement. Hall of Fame from the get-go. He’s just a Hall of Fame guy, and a Hall of Fame player.”
Jim Thome played in the majors for 22 seasons. The former All-Star played 13 years with the Cleveland Indians, four years with the Philadelphia Phillies, four years with the Chicago White Sox, two years with the Minnesota Twins, one year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and one year with the Baltimore Orioles.
Making The Case: Jim Thome and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot
Thome made his debut on September 4, 1991, with the Cleveland Indians. He made his last appearance with the Orioles on October 3, 2012.
The left-handed slugger was apart of the well-established lineup that the Indians had put together in the late 90s. Thome was apart of the team that brought Cleveland their first AL Pennant since 1954.
The former infielder played the prime of his career during the steroid era. He was never once suspected of using steroids. Thome even strictly denies ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
In 22 seasons, Thome played in 2,543 career games. He batted .276/.402/.554, with 451 doubles, 26 triples, and 612 home runs (one of nine players to hit 600+ homers). Thome also drove in 1,699 runs, and had 19 stolen bases.
The big lefty was a five-time All-Star, Won the Silver Slugger Award in 1996, was AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2006, Won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2002, lead the National League in homers with 47 in 2003, is a member of Philadelphia’s Baseball Wall of Fame, and lastly is in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.
Character, Leadership, and Personality
The Orioles in 2012 viewed Thome’s veteran leadership as a big key as to why the team was playoff-bound. Catcher, Matt Wieters had this to say about Thome, “I think you look at him and say: This is a guy who loves the game more than anyone. He’s the first guy to the park, the first guy to the weight room, the first guy hitting.”
Thome is deserving of the spot because of his playing ability. He also gest some extra credit as he carries himself in a great matter. In a poll of 464 MLB players in 2007, Thome was tied second with Mike Sweeney for friendliest played behind Sean Casey.
Lastly, in a piece for Philadelphia magazine discussing Thome’s Baseball Hall of Fame prospect, sportswriter Stephen Silver wrote the following:
“It’s not just the numbers. Thanks to his gregarious personality, Thome is the rare athlete who played in several cities and was beloved everywhere he went. I saw the Twins and Phillies play each other in Philadelphia when Thome was with the Twins, and the same two teams in Minnesota two years later when Thome was a Phillie, and the opposing crowd cheered Thome both times, even when he hit home runs for the road team. Thome was similarly loved in his long stints in Cleveland and Chicago, as well as shorter runs in Los Angeles and Baltimore.”
Embed from Getty Images
ARLINGTON, TX – MAY 3: Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Texas Rangers. Photo taken at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 3, 1999 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)