Monday, July 28, 2014

Frank Thomas Did it the Right Way

PED users defiled MLB's record book but some statistics and records still matter; it is important to recognize and honor the select group of great players who battled temptation--and went head to head physically with players who used illegal drugs to obtain a competitive advantage--during MLB's "Steroid Era". Frank Thomas not only stayed clean during his outstanding 19 year MLB career but he never hesitated to speak out against the cheaters, even when it was unpopular to do so. After Thomas hit his 500th career home run, I explained that Thomas had rightfully earned Hall of Fame status even before that signature blast.

Thomas finished his career with a .301 batting average, a .419 on base percentage and a .555 slugging percentage. Babe Ruth is the only major leaguer with at least 10,000 plate appearances who surpassed Thomas in all three of those categories. Ruth, Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx and Willie Mays are the only clean players who exceeded Thomas in both batting average and career home runs (521)*. Thomas is the only player who compiled a streak of seven straight seasons with at least a .300 average, 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 RBI and 20 home runs.

The Baseball Hall of Fame voters selected Thomas in his first year of eligibility and on Sunday "The Big Hurt" joined Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa in the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Thomas' Hall of Fame Induction Speech overflows with gratitude for the many relatives, friends, teammates and coaches who shaped his development as a man and as a baseball player. Thomas concluded with a simple, powerful statement: "To all you kids out there, just remember one thing from today. There are no shortcuts to success. Hard work, dedication, commitment, stay true to who you are. God bless you all, and I thank you."

*Manny Ramirez is a PED cheater, so his statistics should be classified as "fiction."

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