22. Milwaukee Brewers (9–11, minus-1, LT: 28)
Eric Thames at a glance:
HR: 1st (8)
SLG: 1st (.828)
Pull: 4th (60.9%)
Chris Bosio and John Lackey can make whatever accusations they want. The bottom line is that Thames has always been one of the most muscular players in baseball history—before going to Korea, during his time demolishing the KBO, and now too. He was also tested for drug use multiple times while in Korea, and passed every test. The difference is that in addition to a Barry Bonds body, Thames has authored a Bonds-like improvement in his batting eye. The drop in Thames’ swing rate on out-of-zone pitches ranks among the biggest ever seen since we started tracking those kinds of data.
An enormously strong slugger without plate discipline becomes Wily Mo Pena. An enormously strong slugger with Thames’ excellent-so-far plate discipline has MVP potential.