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Eric Thames: Real Deal or Flash in the Pan?

By: Corey Parkinson

Eric Thames’ comeback is one of the feel good-stories of this season, but will he be one to sustain the success?

Eric Thames’ comeback story to Major League Baseball had the makings of a Disney movie. The former seventh-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays dealt with a litany of injuries and bounced around in the majors before ending up in the South Korean KBO league. It looked like his MLB dream was over, but Thames was finally able to have some health and fortune, put up video-game like numbers and got himself a three-year, contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. But the first baseman who is taking the league by storm is creating a ton of controversy while doing it.

Thames would find only minimal success in the minor leagues before his first major league call-up in 2011. In his first game, he was nothing special, going 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. He would then go on to play 94 more games that season and batted a respectable, but uninspiring .262 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.

In his second season in the majors, he would split times with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners before eventually being traded to the Baltimore Orioles and then finally Houston Astros in 2013.

After minimal success as a journeyman, Thames eventually just decided to travel across the globe to South Korea and signed with the NC Dinos of the Korena Baseball Organization in 2014.

There he would become a legend.

In his first season in the KBO, Thames batted an astronomical .343 with 37 home runs and 121 RBIs. And he wasn’t done. In 2015, Thames became the first member of the KBO’s 40-40 club, hitting 47 home runs while stealing 40 bases and collecting 140 RBIs with a .381 batting average. Last season he hit .321 with 40 home runs and 121 RBIs.

His tremendous performance led to many accolades. He made two KBO All-Star appearances, a KBO MVP award, two Gold Gloves and a batting title. He finished his KBO career with a .349 batting average, 472 hits, 124 home runs, and 382 RBIs.

That caught the notice of the major leagues again. In November, Thames signed a three-year, $16 million deal with a fourth-year option with the Milwaukee Brewers. This gesture would not go unappreciated. Through the first month of the 2017 season, Thames is tied with Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman with 11 home runs. He only had 21 home runs in his entire first stint in MLB.

But what has led to this sudden career take off? A few weeks ago, after watching Thames got 6-for-11 with three doubles and a home run to open the year, Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio made headlines by accusing Thames of using performance enhancing drugs. He would try to justify his comments by claiming the distance of which Thames is hitting home runs to the likes of known and suspected PED users like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Manny Ramirez. He even threw in the name of Ken Griffey Jr., who has never been linked to any PEDs. Bosio would further claim that Thames’ body size had changed since his last stint in the majors.

Those comments gained a lot of attention and headlined to a point where Thames has been tested three times by MLB. He has found some humor in the situation and said he has a lot of blood and a lot of urine, implying that he is more than willing to be randomly tested whenever and wherever.

But the incredible part about Thames is how he’s made this comeback to prominence in the major leagues. We have seen this story before, a no-name becoming an overnight sensation, only to flame out. Is Thames actually the read deal benefiting from good health, or he is a proverbial one-hit wonder (pun intended)? Obviously, this is an only-time-will-tell situation, but the KBO sensation turned power slugger has all the eyes on him and brought a new storyline to Major League Baseball.

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Corey Parkinson

Staff Writer
Corey grew up a sports fanatic and an athlete. A baseball player up until he was 18, his passion and love for the game has remained unchanged. From the time he was five if it involved a ball that you threw or kicked, Corey was all in. His passion for journalism began at the age of 10 when he wrote a play about a World Series involving the Seattle Mariners and The New York Mets. As a Sports Media and Marketing major currently at Full Sail University, Corey is working his way to becoming an MLB beat writer. Writing for SoMuchSports.com has given him the platform to share his knowledge and passion for sports and primarily his undying love for baseball.

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