Saturday, February 13, 2010
A's of the Decade: Designated Hitter – Frank Thomas
Years: 2006, 2008
Other Candidates: John Jaha (1999-2001); Jeremy Giambi (2000-2002); Ray Durham (2002); Erubiel Durazo (2003-2004); Scott Hatteberg (2002-2005); Mike Piazza (2007); Jack Cust (2007-2009)
Summary: I'm sad to see The Big Hurt finally hang 'em up. He was one of the last superstar players to hit the scene during the seven-year stretch (1987-1993) when baseball established itself as my favorite sport. It'll just be me and a bottle of bourbon when/if Ken Griffey, Jr. ever decides to retire.
Thomas had several All-Star nods under his belt when he signed a $500,000 one-year deal with the A's prior to the 2006 season. He was coming off of two injury-plagued years in which he appeared in only 108 total games. Through his first seven weeks with the A's, Thomas was hitting .178/.300/.373. From May 22 until the end of the season, he hit .302/.408/.603 with 32 HRs.
Arguably, his most impressive contribution to the '06 A's might've been his underreported influence on the mercurial Milton Bradley. Thomas never had a reputation as a good teammate, but whenever Bradley seemed primed for another self-immolation, Thomas was quick to calm him down.
Favorite A's Moment: I could go with Thomas' first game back at Comiskey as a visiting player. In his first at-bat, after receiving a standing ovation from the White Sox faithful, he homered. But, I prefer the July 6 game against the hated Angels. His two-run walk-off home run was the difference in a 7-5 win. Watching the A's delicately slap, hug and high-five the brittle Thomas was an added bonus.
Runner-Up: Erubiel Durazo
Worst of the Decade: John Jaha