Monday, February 06, 2006

Frank Thomas : The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

As a follow up post to Jarhed's post below, I wanted to add my own thoughts to the Frank Thomas signing:

The Good:
- As Jarhed has already pointed out, Frank Thomas' career OPS is a mind-blowing 0.995, ranking him 10th in baseball history.- Frank Thomas has a career OBP of 0.427, putting him in at 11th in baseball history. That's better than Mickey Mantle, and only Bonds has a higher career OBP among active players.
- His career SLG is 0.568, good enough for 12th on the all time leaders list.
- Over the past 3 seasons Thomas has averaged 1 HR per 11.7 AB, meaning that if he actually put in a full season of 162 games, he would hit somewhere around 49 HR.
- In 16 seasons in the big leagues, Frank Thomas has had only 4 sub 0.900 OPS seasons. And the most recent was in 2002 when he ended up with an OPS of 0.833. Last season the A's team OPS was 0.737 and an OPS of 0.833 would have made Thomas the second best hitter on the A's behind Mark Ellis. Chavez last season sported an OPS of 0.797.

The Bad:
- Frank Thomas' BA over the past 3 seasons has been 0.252 compared to his career BA of 0.307. In fact, the last time he posted a +0.300 BA was in 2000. While I think BA is an overrated statistic, I do think this is cause for concern.
- BA 0.248 / OBP 0.382 / SLG 0.456 / OPS 0.838 : That's Thomas' 3 year average AWAY from Chicago. As I noted above, that still would have placed him high up on the A's list of hitters for 2005, but is way off his career line of 0.307 / 0.427 / 0.568.

The Ugly:
- As we all know too well, the big question with The Big Hurt is if we should apply his popular nickname to himself. 2 left ankle fractures have limited Thomas to a measly 108 games over the past 2 seasons. In fact, he has only played over 74 games twice in the past 5 seasons. The fact that the A's were able to sign Thomas for only $500,000 should be an indication of how risky a proposition Thomas is.

PECOTA projects the following for The Big Hurt in 2006:
353 PA / 0.237 BA / 0.342 OBP / 0.497 SLG / 46 BB / 80 K / 13 2B / 22 HR
VORP: 15.8RC: 57.7

I'm gonna go out on a limb and agree somewhat with the above. 353 PA works out to roughly 100 games give or take. As long as Thomas is honestly 100% opening day, I think 100 games is about right. My prediction as follows based on 100 games:

BA 0.263 - slightly above his 3 year average
OBP 0.374 - I think he should be able to come close to his 3 year average.
SLG 0.479 - While I think Thomas will do better than his 3 year average away from Chicago, I don't think he will approach the PECOTA level above in pitcher friendly Oakland.
HR 22 - in this Pecota and I agree

And the bottom line to all this : is Thomas worth it? Would you pay a player an incentive laden package worth possibly $3.1 Million for +20 HR with an OPS of 0.853 and an above average OBP? Gambling of course that he is healthy.


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