Milwaukee Brewers slugger and former KBO star, Eric Thames, blasted his 11th home run of the season, putting him only three away from tying a Major League record for homers in April. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Is Eric Thames a legit MVP candidate?”
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames has 11 home runs. If he hits five or six more each month through October, he’ll end the year with 36-41 home runs. In 2017, his power production alone warrants consideration for an MVP award.
But what about his other offensive stats? He’s hitting .371 and getting on-base at a .482 clip. Even if his average regresses, he’s likely to end the year around .300 with an OBP near .400. Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the National League MVP with a .292/..385/.554 slash line. The raw numbers have Thames in the conversation.
How about the counting stats? With 25 runs scored and 19 RBIs to his credit, Thames is on pace to finish the year with over 100 of each. Bryant managed to score 121 runs and drive in 102 last year. Again, Thames is still in the conversation.
Defensively, Thames isn’t doing himself any favors. He’s currently a -0.8 DWAR, and he plays first base. A first baseman hasn’t won the NL MVP award since Joey Votto won in 2010. Votto was a -10.1 defensively. It could happen, but Thames would need to slug .600 like Votto did to get into the conversation.
The last time a player won the NL MVP on a team that didn’t make the post-season was 2004 with Barry Bonds, and they still won 91 games and finished 1 game in back of the Houston Astros for the Wild Card. The Brewers are 11-11, and while this is a huge accomplishment for a team that most predicted to lose 90 games, a .500 record, or worse, is unlikely to help Thames’ cause.
Writers like to vote for stories, especially feel good stories. Right now, it would take Bryce Harper rescuing kittens out of a burning building one hour before a game to top Thames’ KBO-to-MLB story. The uniqueness of Thames will carry weight on the ballots.
Eric Thames has resurrected his career in a way that few thought possible. He’s made the Milwaukee Brewers brain trust look like geniuses, and he’s managed to captivate the baseball world for the majority of April. The numbers say that he’s in the early conversation for the 2017 National League MVP award, but there are still 140 more games left to play, a lot can, and will happen.