Former Twins Slugger Jim Thome Reaches Hall of Fame

Written By Brandon Warne (ZoneCoverage.com)

On Wednesday night, the BBWAA announced its Hall of Fame class of 2018, and it’s a doozy. Making the Hall of Fame requires a 75 percent vote, which in this case means 317 votes in the current BBWAA structure.

This year’s class — which’ll be inducted over the July 27-30 weekend — includes:

  • 97.2 percent – 3B/OF Chipper Jones (410 votes, first year)
  • 92.9 percent – OF Vladimir Guerrero (392 votes, second year)
  • 89.8 percent – 1B/3B/DH Jim Thome (379 votes, first year)
  • 79.9 percent – Trevor Hoffman (337 votes, third year)

Edgar Martinez (297 votes, 70.4 percent), Mike Mussina (268 votes, 63.5 percent), Roger Clemens (242 votes, 57.3 percent) and Barry Bonds (238 votes, 56.4 percent) were the next four closest players to enshrinement, and all had numbers indicative of strong future cases.

Jones spent his entire 19-year MLB career with the Atlanta Braves. He hit .303/.401/.529 in 2,499 games with 468 homers. He won an MVP award in 1999 and finished in the top-10 six other times. He played in eight All-Star Games and also won the 2008 NL batting title when he hit an incredible .364/.470/.574 in his age-36 season.

Guerrero came up as a 21-year-old in 1996 with the Montreal Expos, and spent eight seasons in the organization before signing as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels. After six years with the Angels, Guerrero played one year apiece with Texas and Baltimore before retiring after the 2011 season. Guerrero hit 449 homers and was a career .318/.379/.553 hitter. He was known for his ability to swing at — and hit — pitches anywhere in and out of the strike zone, as noted by his 10.9 percent career strikeout rate as well as his 8.1 percent walk rate. Guerrero wasn’t a particularly adept right fielder, but he boasted one of the finest arms of the era.

Thome came up as a third baseman on some stacked Indians teams in the mid-90s, and ended up shifting to first base and ultimately designated hitter before he retired following the 2012 season. Over his 22-year MLB career, Thome smashed 612 home runs — including his 600th in a Twins uniform against the Tigers — and batted .276/.402/.554. Thome wasn’t just a one-trick pony, however. Among the nearly 1,000 players with at least 5,000 MLB plate appearances, Thome ranks 40th — tied with Lu Blue and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Kelley — in on-base percentage.

Hoffman recorded 601 saves — second to Mariano Rivera, who is eligible next year for induction — over 18-year MLB career. Hoffman spent nearly all his MLB time with the Padres, save for two years at the end of his career with the Brewers and the first part of his career, where he was with the Marlins. All told, 952.1 of his 1,089.1 career innings came in a Padres uniform. Hoffman struck out more than a batter per inning (9.4 K/9) and was an All-Star seven times. He finished second in the 1998 Cy Young balloting when he saved 53 games with a 1.48 ERA for the pennant-winning Padres that year.

On a less encouraging note, former Twins starting pitcher Johan Santana — who is still not formally retired but will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame this summer — failed to receive the 5 percent necessary to stay on the ballot in future seasons. If he has any chance at making the Hall of Fame in the future, it’ll have to come through the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game Era Committee.

This year’s Modern Baseball Committee (1970-1987) voted to enshrine former Detroit Tigers teammates Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. Both players will join Hoffman, Jones, Guerrero and Thome in Cooperstown in July.


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