by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While people thought that Eric Thames could enjoy a strong first season back in the United States, could anyone have imagined this type of start:
.408 (20-49), 7 HR, 12 RBI, 18 R
Now the question is if there’s any chance that he can come reasonably close to maintaining this production, or is he destined for a significant regression? Obviously he’s going to fall off a bit, but thinking that he’s going to disappear completely would be a mistake.
He’s not going to maintain a 46.7% HR/FB, but then again no one is going to hit 7 HR every two weeks. What he’s proven is that the power he showed while playing overseas can translate, and playing in Milwaukee a 30+ HR season is a very real possibility.
The bigger question comes from his average, where he’s benefited from a .419 BABIP. It’s a small sample size, but he’s hitting the ball extremely hard (52.6% Hard%), a good sign despite the expectations of a slump
Then we have his plate discipline:
- Strikeout Rate – 19.0%
- Walk Rate – 13.8%
Thames hasn’t been missing (7.3% SwStr%) and he hasn’t been chasing outside the strike zone (20.9% O-Swing%). More impressive, at least in the early going, is that he isn’t missing a significant amount against any type of pitch (Whiff%):
- Hard – 7.18%
- Breaking – 11.84%
- Offspeed – 14.89%
It’s definitely possible that he starts to see fewer fastballs (61.32%), and he will then have to adjust. At the same time his early success against other pitches and the fact that Ryan Braun typically hits behind him (leading to more fastballs) means that a significant implosion isn’t likely.
In the early part of the season Thames is looking like one of the premier hitters in the game. As opponents get a book on the “new” Thames and adjust there is going to be a slump. At the same time what he’s shown thus far is extremely promising. He’s hitting for power, he’s hitting the ball hard and he’s showing an ability to make contact against all pitches.
Is he this good? No, but he’s promising just the same. I would never say never about selling high, but in most cases you likely won’t get enough value back. Feel free to shop him, but don’t feel obligated to pull the trigger
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out our Preseason 2017 Prospect Rankings:
|Top 50 Prospects||1-50|
|Right Handed Pitchers:||1-10||11-20|
|Left Handed Pitchers:||1-10|