The 3rd Man In

Eric Thames has been a disappointment in 2017

Eric Thames

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames was the talk of baseball, after knocking 11 home runs and posting a .345 average in the month of April this season.

But following his first month with the Brewers, Thames hasn’t lived up to expectations.

After destroying opposing pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization the last three years, the Brewers signed Thames to a three-year, $15 million contract last offseason. His overseas success hasn’t translated to the major leagues, however.

Known for his plate discipline, Thames swung at 19.1 percent of pitches outside the strike zone during his impressive month of April, which was the seventh-best in the majors.

With 22 games left in the 2017 season, Thames is hitting just .235 with 28 home runs and 54 RBIs. He’s also struck out 146 times, compared to just 66 walks, and swung at 27.3 percent of pitches outside the zone this season.

His increased chase rate is a reason for his lack of production since the first month of the season. It’s also why his playing time has gone down, especially with the acquisition of Neil Walker.

With Brewers back-up first baseman Jesus Aguilar hitting .267 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in just 274 at-bats, Thames appears replaceable if he can’t figure out major league pitching quickly.

The Brewers took a slight risk on signing a 30-year-old first baseman with little track record of success in the big leagues. As the 2017 season winds down, the Thames signing was a gamble that hasn’t paid off.


  1. Ben

    September 8, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    “ZiPS projected Thames to hit .247/.321/.493 w/ 26 HR.

    He’s hit .235/.348/.506 w/ 28 HR.

    Generated $11.3 mil per Fangraphs, making $4 mil.”

    -@brewerfan28 (twitter)

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  3. Matty

    September 9, 2017 at 9:45 am

    119 ops + for the season.
    You actually thought his torrid start would be his “normal”? Lol

    He’s been more than fine and is underpaid bases on his performance

  4. Brian

    September 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Thames hasn’t been good in months, but I think the author has really overestimated what 3yr/16m gets you in the MLB. I think the Brewers could find a taker for the last two years of his contract, and he was still an above average bat this year even if the production wasn’t distributed evenly.

  5. Adam

    September 9, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Considering he’s provided between $5.6 and $11.2mil in value based on WAR (depending on bWAR or fWAR), and is only signed for $4mil this year, it seems that he performed at least as well as expected. Of course, you think his ‘only’ 66 walks isn’t very good, yet it’s enough for a 16th-best-in-MLB 13.4% BB% – that’s an outstanding rate. He has an OPS of .855, nearly 20% better than the average player – his ISO slugging is also an outstanding .271, good enough for 13th in the league and in front of guys like Votto, Moustakas and Zimmerman. His K rate hasn’t been great, and the BA could use some improvement, but in overall body of work, he’s had a nice year, and was somewhere between a good and great value in $/war

  6. Matt

    September 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    A gamble? They gave him $4 million this year. On what planet did that not work out?

    Aguilar’s actually had the bigger drop off since their respective early season tears.

  7. andrew

    September 9, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Eric Thames has produced more than he is being paid ($12 million in value, $4 million salary via fangraphs). Techniqually a win, but work needs to be done for him to get better. Btw, fangraphs is quite good for looking at player value and posting articles, which I ocassionally do on their community reasearch page. If you want to talk about it or other things I’d love to hear from you.

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