Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thome Not Viewed as Great as Others in 600 Club

Jim Thome has now become the 8th man to hit 600th career home runs. Of those 8 men, 3 (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa) are under the suspicion of using steroids to enhance their performance. Because of this you could argue that there are really only 5 players who are undisputed 600 home run hitters (Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Thome).

While Thome’s accomplishment is impressive, and he is one of the nicest guys around, he unfortunately is not viewed as being on the same level of legend as Ruth, Aaron, Mays, and Griffey are. In fact, Jim Thome has never been “The Man” on his team. Never that franchise player the team is built around.

In Cleveland where Thome spent his first 12 years he was often overshadowed by the likes Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Roberto Alomar.

In Philadelphia Thome was traded away to make room for a “real superstar” named Ryan Howard. Thome came to the White Soxs after Paul Konerko had led them to a World Series victory and was cemented in his position as the White Sox’s “main man”.

Thome never an MVP and has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting only 4 times never finishing higher than fourth.

Thome’s teams never won a World Series losing in 95 and 97. Thome never played any position in field well defensively. In fact, Thome is most known as a DH, not a legendary all-around outfielder as Ruth, Aaron, Mays, and Griffey are viewed.

Thome never inspired a cool nickname like Ruth (The Sultan of Swat, The Bambino), Aaron (Hammerin’ Hank), Mays (Say Hey Kid), or Griffey (Junior).

Thome was always been Robin to someone else’s Batman. Thome hit home runs, walked and was a great teammate, but he never had the myth that he was “the man”.

Like the Twins now Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, Thome has piled up impressive stats without developing a myth of immortally. The other night Blyleven complained on television that Derek Jeter chase of 3000 hits got more attention than Thome chase for 600 home runs. Blyleven said that Thome feat was greater than Jeter’s because fewer people had achieved it.

Maybe so, but in reality when people look back at this era, Derek Jeter will be viewed as much greater player than Thome whether he was or not. Derek Jeter has the myth of being a franchise player on multiple championship teams. No amount of home run Jim Thome hits will overcome that.