colepenhagen

Eric Thames 2017 Outlook

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I expect radical platoon splits when he's facing Korean pitchers.

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EDIT: If you're staring at this post wondering "Why in the world did this dude write so much about Eric Thames?" I honestly couldn't tell you. I've been staring at this post for a minute now just wondering why, but I bolded the parts that I felt were important so if you're skimming you can hopefully see the highlights if you don't wanna stop and sniff the roses. 

7 hours ago, 2ndCitySox said:

I expect radical platoon splits when he's facing Korean pitchers.

Of course. And I think this will be a popular opinion.

 

BUT

 

Is it that outlandish to think he could do something at this level? I mean, Korean baseball isn't American baseball, but doing something against professional men for years has to improve you to some extent, no? 

 

One advantage he carries over Carter for the Brewers oddly enough is that Miller Park plays better for Lefty power than Righty power. Now that didn't seem to bother Carter any, but it is important to note that they did bring in Thames, who hits from the Left side, over Carter, who hits from the right. Rotogrinders lists Miller as being a 1.16 for Righty Homers and a 1.55 for Lefty Homers (1.00 of course being league average). That 1.55 is by far the highest of any other park for Lefty Homers. 

 

In his Major League career, Thames had (over 536 PAs) a .261/.307/.446 and 17 Homers against Righties. That's a little more than a full season's PAs against righties, but if you knock it down about 60-100 PAs you have in a season of PAs and about 14-15 homers as is against righties. Considering he was young and in his first taste of the bigs, I'm inclined to believe he could improve on the power even if not the other metrics as much.  

 

In his short sample size, his peripheral hitting numbers against righties are also good. 23% LD%, 34.3% Hard%. His batted ball profile seems decent for power... around league average FB% and I never expect LD% to stay very consistent, but having them not be Grounders I give a little extra credit in the FB% when I evaluate players because he's stlil elevating the ball, and that's ultimately what I'm looking for. 

 

Jung-Ho Kang's best power season in Korea was 40. Thames has 37, 47, and 40 in three years. Again, Korean stats don't mean much, but we do list minor league stats and this is our best idea of what kind of power he actually has right now. So take that for what it's worth. 

 

In the Majors, he had a career 5.6% Walk Rate and a 24.9% K%. In Korea, he had a 14.4% Walk rate and 17.9% K%. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't expect that to be indicative of what we're going to see, but while I expect the K% to inflate back into the low-mid 20s against superior pitching, I do think the 14.4% BB% could represent a change in approach which could lead to him getting closer to the 8-9% range, and be more selective. Just a theory based on a different countries' league... but it's better than if he weren't walking over there either I suppose. One caveat to this is that he always seemed to walk more in the minors... closer to 9-11%, and it didn't carry over to the bigs. But hopefully, he can show that the Korean improvement in plate discipline wasn't simply a product of bad pitchers. 

 

Adding in the Miller effect, an entrance into prime physical form, and the potential of added skills, I'm willing to give him 20 HRs against righties. Upside for a bit more with a little bit of good fortune. I'm not willing to give him a BB% in the 9% range, even though I think it's plausible, but I could give him a 7.5%. A minor improvement that could probably have been expected if he continued to play in the minors.

 

I worry that he won't be able to hit lefties for a lick. He at least kept it over the Mendoza line against lefties, but the batted ball data is really bad over those (only 148 PAs). 

 

One VERY intriguing factoid found in this fangraphs article: 

http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/checking-in-on-eric-thames/

He stole only 11 and 13 bases in two of those three seasons, so the 40 SB season seems to be the outlier, but they make mention of him learning SB technique from his first base coach who during his playing days was known as the "Stolen Base King of Korea." I don't know if there's a technical carry over there, but all I can think of is that the Brewers love to run, so it makes me think that they did see the potential of 10ish SBs as another thing Thames could provide that Carter probably wouldn't. It's anotehr thing that if you told me it was bull**** and you wouldn't put any weight in it, I couldn't argue, but it's intriguing none the less.

 

.248/.310/.460 type slash with 23 Homers and 8 Steals. Not the worst numbers. BA is probably too much of a drag for any shallow league for only 23 homers, but I do think there's upside for 30+ simply because he's 30 and if the Brewers didn't think he could hit 30+, I can't imagine they'd bring him in. I also think ther'es some BA upside.. I do believe he's a true talent .260-.265 hitter against righties, so if more PAs causes him to smooth out the platoon I could see an average raising. 

 

IDK what kind of leagues I'll be in, and this is the most dimly lit glowing review, but I'd actually make it a point to target him in a Daily NL Only. Think if you fade matchpus against Lefties he could produce good cheap power with a chance at a couple bags. 

Edited by taobball
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10 hours ago, colepenhagen said:

decent landing place for thames in Mil

those numbers in korea are unbelievable

wounder if he could be a 30hr 260 player

 

http://www.brewcrewball.com/2016/11/30/13791680/what-to-expect-from-eric-thames

No.  Well Freddy Glavis hit 20 homers last season so if the ball stays juiced he might hit that many. 

And the numbers in South Korea are unbelievable because they never do translate into MLB numbers.  Kang is the lone exception to the rule and he has been the only bat from the Korean league to do good over here so far whether the bat is Korean by birth or a wandering bat for hire like Thames.  I'll believe Thames is legit only when I see it over here.  Until then I am a total skeptic.

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21 minutes ago, The Big Bat Theory said:

No.  Well Freddy Glavis hit 20 homers last season so if the ball stays juiced he might hit that many. 

And the numbers in South Korea are unbelievable because they never do translate into MLB numbers.  Kang is the lone exception to the rule and he has been the only bat from the Korean league to do good over here so far whether the bat is Korean by birth or a wandering bat for hire like Thames.  I'll believe Thames is legit only when I see it over here.  Until then I am a total skeptic.

He hit 21HR in 181 games (684PA). I saw him in Toronto and in Korea (when I visited some friends there). He's an excellent baseball player. I don't think he's going to hit 40HR, but the guy has legit power. Whether he can hit big league pitching is going to be the issue, but don't be too surprised if he hitsm ore than 25 with regular ABs.

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I've often wondered what someone like Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera's stat line would look like in the KBO. What about early 2000s Barry Bonds?

 

Is there a way MLB can put one or two of its elite sluggers on special detail in the KBO for a season just so we can gain a little extra perspective on what those stats really mean? 

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5 minutes ago, Weekday Warrior said:

I've often wondered what someone like Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera's stat line would look like in the KBO. What about early 2000s Barry Bonds?

 

Is there a way MLB can put one or two of its elite sluggers on special detail in the KBO for a season just so we can gain a little extra perspective on what those stats really mean? 

Barry Bonds got walked in Major League Baseball anytime he could cause real damage during his 'roid stretch.

I can only imagine the same thing would happen to anybody else in any other league if they went that kind of insanely hot.

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 He's always had lightning tower power with a strong minor league track record.  The success in the KBO, while still being just the KBO, is also encouraging.    His ceiling to me is all over the place.  If he becomes the next Nelson Cruz, it wouldn't surprise me.  If he's another Khris Davis, it wouldn't be a bad thing.  If he flops on his face and is strictly a platoon player, it's not like you would have invested much to be disappointed.  

 

Solid lotto ticket.

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5 hours ago, The Big Bat Theory said:

No.  Well Freddy Glavis hit 20 homers last season so if the ball stays juiced he might hit that many. 

And the numbers in South Korea are unbelievable because they never do translate into MLB numbers.  Kang is the lone exception to the rule and he has been the only bat from the Korean league to do good over here so far whether the bat is Korean by birth or a wandering bat for hire like Thames.  I'll believe Thames is legit only when I see it over here.  Until then I am a total skeptic.

 

I mean I don't think anyone's suggesting a major investment. The fact of the matter is he was a .250/.296/.431 career slash line player with about 18-19 HR power if you scale down to 600 PAs. When you include the following factors:
1.) You yourself are an advocate for the juiced ball theory. Regardless, his numbers come from perhaps the most pitcher-friendly sample years we have in recent memory ('11-'12)

2.) Miller Park is considered by many the best park for Lefty HRs in all of baseball. 

3.) Another thing on park factors: Thames had 18 HRs in 542 PAs with Toronto and 3 HRs in his 129 PAs with the Mariners. That doesn't move the needle much, but it's the difference of a 20 HR pace in a hitter friendly environment and a 14 HR pace in a less-hitter friendly environment.

4.) I generally assume that your 2nd 600 PAs have a good shot at showing skills improvements over your first 600 PAs. Thames didn't have that opportunity.

 

So from those things alone, if he can hit his weight and just stay on the field I don't think 22-24 HR projection is very outlandish at all. And to me that doesn't really include any progression as a player. I think the argument could be made for the line I listed in the above post if he just was traded in 2013 to the Brewers and was expected to get full time ABs. Combine that would a bit of power upside, a bit of speed upside, and a platoon split that we don't know how legitimate it will be over the long term, and you have intrigue.

 

Maybe we're dealing with different league types of course. I don't see him drafted as anything outside a bench bat in Mixed, but I think he'll be a cheap CI option in NL Only leagues with upside. 

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Thames had great minor league numbers I never was quite sure why he ever jumped over to the KBO.  200 AAA games with a .895 OPS 130 AA games with a .896 OPS the guy could always hit.  The guy averaged nearly an RBI a game in the KBO.

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On Thursday, December 01, 2016 at 3:04 AM, taobball said:

EDIT: If you're staring at this post wondering "Why in the world did this dude write so much about Eric Thames?" I honestly couldn't tell you. I've been staring at this post for a minute now just wondering why, but I bolded the parts that I felt were important so if you're skimming you can hopefully see the highlights if you don't wanna stop and sniff the roses. 

Of course. And I think this will be a popular opinion.

 

BUT

 

Is it that outlandish to think he could do something at this level? I mean, Korean baseball isn't American baseball, but doing something against professional men for years has to improve you to some extent, no? 

 

One advantage he carries over Carter for the Brewers oddly enough is that Miller Park plays better for Lefty power than Righty power. Now that didn't seem to bother Carter any, but it is important to note that they did bring in Thames, who hits from the Left side, over Carter, who hits from the right. Rotogrinders lists Miller as being a 1.16 for Righty Homers and a 1.55 for Lefty Homers (1.00 of course being league average). That 1.55 is by far the highest of any other park for Lefty Homers. 

 

In his Major League career, Thames had (over 536 PAs) a .261/.307/.446 and 17 Homers against Righties. That's a little more than a full season's PAs against righties, but if you knock it down about 60-100 PAs you have in a season of PAs and about 14-15 homers as is against righties. Considering he was young and in his first taste of the bigs, I'm inclined to believe he could improve on the power even if not the other metrics as much.  

 

In his short sample size, his peripheral hitting numbers against righties are also good. 23% LD%, 34.3% Hard%. His batted ball profile seems decent for power... around league average FB% and I never expect LD% to stay very consistent, but having them not be Grounders I give a little extra credit in the FB% when I evaluate players because he's stlil elevating the ball, and that's ultimately what I'm looking for. 

 

Jung-Ho Kang's best power season in Korea was 40. Thames has 37, 47, and 40 in three years. Again, Korean stats don't mean much, but we do list minor league stats and this is our best idea of what kind of power he actually has right now. So take that for what it's worth. 

 

In the Majors, he had a career 5.6% Walk Rate and a 24.9% K%. In Korea, he had a 14.4% Walk rate and 17.9% K%. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't expect that to be indicative of what we're going to see, but while I expect the K% to inflate back into the low-mid 20s against superior pitching, I do think the 14.4% BB% could represent a change in approach which could lead to him getting closer to the 8-9% range, and be more selective. Just a theory based on a different countries' league... but it's better than if he weren't walking over there either I suppose. One caveat to this is that he always seemed to walk more in the minors... closer to 9-11%, and it didn't carry over to the bigs. But hopefully, he can show that the Korean improvement in plate discipline wasn't simply a product of bad pitchers. 

 

Adding in the Miller effect, an entrance into prime physical form, and the potential of added skills, I'm willing to give him 20 HRs against righties. Upside for a bit more with a little bit of good fortune. I'm not willing to give him a BB% in the 9% range, even though I think it's plausible, but I could give him a 7.5%. A minor improvement that could probably have been expected if he continued to play in the minors.

 

I worry that he won't be able to hit lefties for a lick. He at least kept it over the Mendoza line against lefties, but the batted ball data is really bad over those (only 148 PAs). 

 

One VERY intriguing factoid found in this fangraphs article: 

http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/checking-in-on-eric-thames/

He stole only 11 and 13 bases in two of those three seasons, so the 40 SB season seems to be the outlier, but they make mention of him learning SB technique from his first base coach who during his playing days was known as the "Stolen Base King of Korea." I don't know if there's a technical carry over there, but all I can think of is that the Brewers love to run, so it makes me think that they did see the potential of 10ish SBs as another thing Thames could provide that Carter probably wouldn't. It's anotehr thing that if you told me it was bull**** and you wouldn't put any weight in it, I couldn't argue, but it's intriguing none the less.

 

.248/.310/.460 type slash with 23 Homers and 8 Steals. Not the worst numbers. BA is probably too much of a drag for any shallow league for only 23 homers, but I do think there's upside for 30+ simply because he's 30 and if the Brewers didn't think he could hit 30+, I can't imagine they'd bring him in. I also think ther'es some BA upside.. I do believe he's a true talent .260-.265 hitter against righties, so if more PAs causes him to smooth out the platoon I could see an average raising. 

 

IDK what kind of leagues I'll be in, and this is the most dimly lit glowing review, but I'd actually make it a point to target him in a Daily NL Only. Think if you fade matchpus against Lefties he could produce good cheap power with a chance at a couple bags. 

I was just making a dumb and obviously poor joke. However, thanks for the insightful post! I find thames to be very interesting, but probably more so in actual baseball than fantasy. 

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How will his home run celebration abilities translate from the KBO? Do we have any decent comps?

 

There's no question that this guy had the quick wrists and generational hand-eye coordination to be something special in Korea, but do the Brewers have anyone to step up as the other half of his patty-cake platoon? How does Miller Park profile for right-handed high fives?

 

His beard withstood 124 tugs over 390 games. With his projected power numbers obviously faded from the KBO could increased beard maintenance disrupt his in-season routine?

 

I'm with you guys, there's a lot of uncertainty for Thames heading into 2017.

 

On 12/1/2016 at 1:53 AM, colepenhagen said:

dude looks jacked

 

 

 

 

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here's a vice article from last april that goes pretty in depth

 

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/eric-thames-went-from-quad-a-slugger-to-korean-league-star-whats-next

 

found this section interesting in terms of why his early major league numbers weren't so great and why he washed out of the US:

 

Quote

Thames started the year fine; at the end of April, he was hitting .308 but had only hit two home runs and drawn five walks. He was playing well, in other words, but not necessarily in the ways the Jays envisioned. That necessitated a conversation with the general manager, who was looking for a specific skill set from his corner outfielders.

"I remember Alex Anthopoulos sat me down at the beginning of 2012—and this was during the season—and he said, 'We want you to walk more and hit more home runs.' And I was like, 'Uhhh OK. I'm gonna try,'" Thames said. "But do you know how hard that is?"

Thames started pressing in the search for more power, but he couldn't figure out the chicken-or-egg dilemma of trying to be more selective for walks while also being more aggressive in looking for pitches to drive. "I started striking out, striking out, striking out," he said. "And, of course, that was the end of the road for me, trying to do too much." He hit .193 in May, striking out 28 times in 88 plate appearances; he walked less while also hitting for less power, and the Jays sent him back to the minors on May 28.

 

he goes on to talk about how great it was when he went to asia and got to play every day and get into a routine, how he's developed his approach and so on

 

i'm really not sure exactly what he's gonna do but i'm always an optimist about guys like this, because at the price you can get them it's usually all upside. i'll take a guy like this over some boring average veteran in the double-digit rounds of a draft all day long.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Golden Spikes said:

his swing looks compact, dude is jacked, I am grabbing him everywhere I can as a 20+ round flier

 

That  late I would definitely ride the lighting. Or I guess the river, in Thames case.

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In what way has Thames improved his skill since he last faced MLB pitching? Korean pitching is terrible and the parks play like little league fields. Anything is possible, but Im not expecting much at all. 20-25 HR with a bad average and OBP near .300 seems pretty likely to me, and as an OF without a lot of steals thats not worth anything when every MI in baseball is also hitting 20 Hrs

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17 minutes ago, cs3 said:

In what way has Thames improved his skill since he last faced MLB pitching? Korean pitching is terrible and the parks play like little league fields. Anything is possible, but Im not expecting much at all. 20-25 HR with a bad average and OBP near .300 seems pretty likely to me, and as an OF without a lot of steals thats not worth anything when every MI in baseball is also hitting 20 Hrs

 

Sure, but people improve when they play in the minors for three years. Again, I'm not remotely predicting 40/40. But it's not like his numbers were completely awful in the MLB. Again, he was a .260 hitter with power against righties in the MLB. He's playing in maybe the best park for lefty power. If he hits .260 and drops 20-25 bombs against righties, he just need to be remotely competent against lefties. If he made any improvements I think he'll be a pretty solid UT. Look, I'm not crazy. I'm in the mock draft and I said just today I was looking to get one of four power hitters and I ranked them Ryon Healy, CJ Cron, Greg Bird, and Eric Thames. I'm tempted to take him over Bird, and may move him over him, but Cron and Healy are for sure staying over him. So it's not like I expect to get him early anywhere. 

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Oh, Im on board with ranking him around those guys. Basically a 20th+ round bench bat in standard sized leagues

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3 minutes ago, Topgun said:

 

I'd rather you didn't.

 

hehe. shh!

 

 

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The projections for him are absurd. 

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