Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Thome a Good Fit in Arlington?

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Texas Rangers are interested in adding free agent slugger Jim Thome to their roster, which would add even more depth to an already dangerous lineup.  While he turned 40 in August, Thome was still effective for the Twins during the 2010 season.  In 276 at-bats for Minnesota, he batted .283 with a .412 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging percentage.  He hit 25 home runs while driving in 59 runs.  A lefty, the Rangers are probably interested in Thome because of his ability to hit right-handed pitching.  Last season he hit .302 against right-handers and he owns a career average of .294 against them (with a slugging percentage of .617).

So would this be a good deal for the Rangers?  Obviously, Thome would add a great deal of power to the Rangers lineup (589 career home runs worth).  Thome has also hit well at Rangers Ballpark.  In 206 career at-bats there, Thome owns a slash line of  .301/.418/.607 (avg/obp/slg).  That includes 15 home runs and 41 RBI.  Thome would be added to a deep lineup that already includes Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, and Michael Young.

Michael Young is the reason that the addition of Thome could be a problem for the Rangers.  Because the Rangers added Adrian Beltre, Michael Young was supposed to be moved from his normal position at third base to DH.  However, if the Rangers added to Thome to be the DH, where does that leave Young?  If you put Thome in the lineup against right-handers and insert Young against lefties, that doesn't fully utilize what Young's talent.  While Thome does very well against right-handed pitching, he has a poor .238 career average against lefties.  Young, on the other hand, is a right-handed hitter who hits both left-handed and right-handed pitching well (.307 against LH, .298 against RH).  Last season Young only had 171 at-bats against lefties, compared to 485 at-bats against righties.  If Thome takes a lot of those at-bats against righties away, how will Young's production drop and how will his attitude change?  He was been the face of the Rangers for the past ten years, and his role is set to change dramatically this season.

Thome would be a good and dangerous addition to the Rangers, offering an already deep lineup more power in a ballpark that is built for it.  However, the lineup will be the best if Young and Thome and both in the lineup at the same time, which is almost impossible.  The Rangers would need to make sure that both Young and Thome still receive a good number of at-bats, as they have both proven that they can still be effective.

Also, Thome is only eleven home runs away from 600.  When will he get there and how will the feat be received (especially compared to how fans reacted when Alex Rodriguez reached 600)?

No comments:

Post a Comment