Opening Day Countdown: Gorman Thomas’ 17 AB/HR

As we continue to countdown to Opening Day, let’s go back to the good ol’ days of Gorman Thomas and his heavy bat in the late 70s and early 80s. Thomas was with the Brewers from 1973-1983, but his bat didn’t come to life with power until 1978 where he went from 8 HRs in ’76 to 32 HRs in ’78. He put on quite a show in the minor leagues in 1977, so there was a good reason he got the nickname “Stormin’ Gorman.”

With the 32 HRs in 1978, he was 1st in the MLB with 14.1 AB per HR with teammate, Larry Hisle, coming in 4th with 15.3. Thomas didn’t do bad the next year, in 1979, coming in 3rd in MLB with 12.4 AB per HR, which was 1st in all the American League. But, with a career high, 45 HRs that year, I’m sure he doesn’t mind.

While, 17.0 AB/HR is impressive, Thomas isn’t 1st in Brewers history. The rest of the list includes some very familiar names (via Baseball-Reference):

  1. Richie Sexson – 14.9
  2. Prince Fielder – 15.3
  3. Jeromy Burnitz – 16.8
  4. Gorman Thomas – 17.0
  5. Rob Deer – 17.1

Certainly, none of these names surprise Brewers’ fans, as if anything these players had was power. In Sexson’s 4 years with the Brewers, he had 45 HRs (career high) not once, but twice in 2001 and 2003. Fielder’s career high is still with the Brewers in 2007 as he knocked in 50. Burntiz’s career high was 38 in 1998 and Rob Deer’s was 33 in 1986.

Although, Thomas was the 2-time AL home run leader in 1979 and 1982, he was only selected as an All-Star for one year in 1981. Brewers’ fans will never know how that may be possible, but he forever left us with some great highlights and it’d be just sinful to not leave his 2-RBI single in the 7th inning that was key in getting them the 7-5 win in Game 4 in the 1982 World Series.