Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames enjoyed a historic April. He slashed .345/.466/.810 with 11 homers, 18 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He looked every bit the star he was in Korea. Then the calendar turned to May and Thames has struggled. Through Wednesday, Thames owns a .236/.382/.400 OPS with only two homers, seven RBIs, and 11 runs scored. Is it time to worry?
While Thames’ OPS isn’t over 1.000, .782 in month isn’t awful. Especially when it comes with 12 walks. While he may not be an MVP candidate right now, the concern over Milwaukee Brewers slugger Eric Thames doesn’t really lie in the numbers.
First, Eric Thames left a game in late April with a tight hamstring. Over the course of 162, these issues happen to even the most reliable players. An occasional hamstring pull is nothing to worry about. Then, he was feeling, “tightness and soreness” in his legs. That’s odd for early May. Issues like this can occur any time, but don’t players start to wear down in late July or August?
While Thames was dealing with the tightness and soreness, the Brewers announced that he had a case of strep throat on May 16th. Thames missed a few games with strep, but returned after a few games of limited action.
After his return, Thames was removed from a game on May 21st against the Cubs with cramping, but again he returned after a few days of rest.
Thames is in his age-30 season and he spent the last three years playing in a league that has a very strict schedule, frequent rainouts, and very little long distance travel. It’s entirely possible that he wasn’t fully ready for the rigors of a Major League season that can require teams to play 20 out of 21 days with cross-country flights. He may need a few days here and there to stay at a level where he feels comfortable playing everyday.
Until Thames needs an extended DL stint with unusually vague updates on his status, he’s simply going through a rough patch with his health, and it’s carried over to the plate. An occasional day off will allow Thames to stay fresh for the stretch run, and allow first baseman Jesus Aguilar a chance to get into the lineup more often.
The Milwaukee Brewers need to worry more about their starting pitching than they do about Eric Thames at this point. May is often the great equalizer after a red hot April. Thames was likely to regress after his torrid start. His recent injury woes are likely more annoying than they are concerning…at this point.