Former White Sox/Blue Jays and A’s slugger Frank Thomas is a newcomer on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year. A two-time American League MVP, “The Big Hurt” seems to have career numbers — .301 BA, 521 HRs and .974 OPS — that would make him a likely candidate for induction into Cooperstown.
However, it’s never that simple with baseball writers.
Though no PED rumors surround Thomas, he does face scrutiny from voters who have been reluctant to vote for designated hitters/corner infielders without 3,000 hits (see Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff and Don Mattingly). Thomas has 2,468 career hits.
Prior to signing with the White Sox, Thomas played baseball and football at Auburn. He actually attended the university on a football scholarship after being passed over in the 1986 amateur baseball draft.
While amateur evaluations of Thomas varied by organization, baseball men were focused on his hulking physique. One was skeptical of his skills save for his obvious power.
– His mistakes go 360 feet. (Donald Labossiere of the Padres)
— Like Jim Rice (even bigger) and Mark McGuire (sic) rolled into one. (Labossiere)
– As big as Sam Horn, but better defensively already at this stage. (Labossiere)
– NFL candidate at Auburn (Allan Goldis, White Sox)
– One huge person (Larry Maxie, White Sox)
– 250 hitter tops (Maxie)
White Sox scout Mike Rizzo’s comments from 1988 were most prescient, predicting almost exactly the type of player Thomas would become.
– Should have 30+ home run capability in his future.
– Potential to be very good, impact major leaguer.
Frank Thomas had seven seasons of.300 AVG/30 HR/100 BB/ 100 RBI. Only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds had more.
2014 ballots are due from Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America writers on Dec. 31. If Thomas isn’t named on 75 percent of them, MLB should consider changing the voting procedure.