a 2012 Baltimore Orioles Baseball: Orioles Slugger, Jim Thome
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Jim Thome and His Impact with the Orioles

 

 

Everyone had heard of Jim Thome, especially growing up in Ohio as a young baseball fan. He was the face of the Cleveland Indians, and he was by far their most prolific home run hitter of all-time.

This was back in the mid- 90’s. It’s 15 years later and Thome is still going strong. Although he has not had as much success lately, and the fact that he has bounced around from team to team over the last four years raises the question whether or not he will have any impact with the Birds.

The power-slugging left-hander will turn 42 this August and as one might assume, his power numbers are dropping year by year.

Last season, he split time between the Minnesota Twins and his first team, the Indians, and he hit .256 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI through 93 contests. The year before, he smashed 25 home runs and drove in 59 RBI while batting .283 over 108 games.

In his career, Thome has launched 609 career home runs, where he is tied for 7th with Sammy Sosa in All-Time career bombs; he sits 21 long shots behind Ken Griffey Jr. for 6th on the list.

At 42 in about a month, there’s no telling how many years he has left in him, but the Orioles needed a slugger from the left side of the plate and Thome seemed to be the best option out there.

Baltimore Orioles hats & merchandiseThis season with the Phillies and Orioles, he is hitting just .241 with five home runs, 16 RBI and 10 runs in 83 at-bats as he made his second tenure with Philadelphia (only appeared in four games for Birds).

He debuted with the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, and he faced his former team, the Indians. However, he went 0-for-4 with two strike outs as he batted 5th in the order behind Adam Jones.

The five-time All-Star smashed a career-high 52 home runs in 2002 with the Indians and drove in 118 runs while batting .291 on the year. He followed that great season up with a 47-home run, 131 RBI and a .304 batting average performance as he finished 4th in MVP voting in 2003.

Thome has put up some impressive seasons, and although those years are behind him, he can still do some damage for a playoff-hopeful team. Especially since Thome features a left-handed sweet swing, there should be great attention when he steps to the dish.

The short porch in right field, known as Eutaw Street at Camden Yards, could be his new home. Thome has one of those mystifying left-handed picture-perfect swings that every-young kid wishes he had.

I think Thome can do a great amount of damage with the right-field shot porch. However, he is also a good opposite field hitter, and Camden Yards features a short left-field line as well. Oriole Park is very hitter-friendly, and I can’t think of a better park for Thome with his age.

As of late, the Orioles’ offense has really been struggling, and has been one of their downfalls over the last month or so.

In June, Baltimore hit just .236 as a team, which ranks them 12th in the AL; they collected just 24 home runs, which isn’t terrible, but after they smashed 45 home runs in May and 30 in April, they dropped off last month.

Not only was their batting average low, but their on-base percentage was the lowest in the AL at just .293 for June. They scored just 97 runs, tied for the least in the league, and they recorded the fewest number of hits as well with 204.

Although it’s only the first week of July, the Birds offense continues to struggle as a team. They are hitting just .203 this month with seven home runs and 24 RBI. They’ve scored 24 runs, 3rd fewest in the AL, and collected just 46 base hits.

The only team in the AL who has a worse offense right now is the Seattle Mariners.

Over the last 30 days, Jones is hitting just .271 with four home runs and nine RBI; he’s collected just 29 base hits over his 107 at-bats. Earlier in the year, Jones was hitting consistently above the .300 mark and looked as if he was on pace for about 35 home runs.

Currently, he is still hitting .293 with 20 home runs and 44 RBI, which still are very impressive numbers. However, he has slowed down over the last month or so.

Matt Wieters is struggling at the dish as well; he is hitting just .261 with three home runs and 19 RBI over the last month. J.J. Hardy is batting at a dismal .158 clip (18-for-114), while Chris Davis is hitting just .217 over that stretch. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is just 12-for-his-first-66 in his return from the year long DL.

Basically, the entire Orioles lineup is struggling from start to finish. They are posting low numbers from home runs to batting average to on-base percentage.

If the Birds want to make a run for the playoffs, they need to find a way to get more production out of their lineup. Thome was one of those options in the back of the Orioles’ minds.

I’m not sure how Thome will affect the team, whether he can still produce strong numbers at an older age. Only time will tell. However, I think this was a great move for the Birds. They didn’t have to give up too much to get home, and he could possibly really strengthen their faltering offense.

 

 

By: Alex Van Rees
MLBCenter.com Staff Writer
Follow me on twitter: @Alex_VanRees


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