For the first month of the young MLB season the biggest story has been first baseman Eric Thames. The once former top prospect fizzled out during his first stint in MLB, he decided to take his talents to Korea. That’s right, not South Beach. All he did in Korea was crush the ball, not once, not twice, not three times, but 124 homers during a three-year span from 2014-2016. Those numbers alone got him some serious major league interest, so the Brewers signed him to a three-year deal with an annual average salary just over $6 million.
Fantasy players who just so happened to get this wonder are currently salivating on the draft spot they were able to get him at, as he is currently the No. 1 fantasy player. There are also those that drafted him, then dropped him for another play, take it from someone who did that. I personally dropped him the first week for Rajai Davis and have regretted the move ever since. Now, many questions arise when it comes to whether or not Eric Thames will continue his onslaught of MLB pitching. Is he legit? Is he taking steroids? Is his strikeout/walk ratio enough to be worried about? With that being said, let’s take a look at Korean Godzilla, Eric Thames.
So far this season Eric Thames is batting .365 with an OPS of 1.276, those alone are MVP type levels, if he could sustain this for an entire season. Is this just going to be a one year wonder? The stats say no, in the three years he played in the South Korean league he had an OPS of at least 1.100 every year. These numbers indicate that when Thames first took his talents to Korea he was just on the cusp of becoming a great hitter, he just was never given the chance during his early years in the MLB. Also, in his 103 at-bats this season has a walk rate of 17.5%, almost a 300% increase from his career average. If he keeps that pace he will finish the season with approximately 121 walks, which is usually pretty close to tops in the league.
If you’re one of those fantasy baseball players who are considering on trading Eric Thames for someone like Bryce Harper, let me be the first to say it, do not do it. Eric Thames will continue to produce at top 5-10 level for the entire season, and who’s to say he doesn’t hit 60 homers. Every few years we see something happen that hasn’t happened in a while, this may very well be one of those years. Even if the batting average drops, 50-60 home runs is welcomed on my fantasy baseball team any day of the week.