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Eric Thames

30 years old

Bats/Throws: L/R

Height/Weight: 6’0”, 210 lbs

Position: FIRST BASE

THE NUMBERS

North America

 

Level

Games

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

2009

RK, High-A

59

.310

3

39

37

1

2010

AA

153

.285

30

120

110

11

2011

AAA

53

.352

7

45

38

5

2011

MLB

95

.262

12

37

58

2

2012

AAA

54

.330

6

32

31

1

2012

MLB

86

.232

9

25

27

1

2013

Rk, AAA, FgW

107

.283

12

54

57

8

Career

MLB

181

.250

21

62

85

3


Korea

 

Level

Games

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

2014

KBO

125

.343

37

121

95

11

2015

KBO

142

.381

47

140

130

40

2016

KBO

121

.317

40

118

117

13

*KBO: Korean Baseball Organization

Thames won the KBO MVP in 2015 as he became the first player in league history to go 40/40.

In late November Thames signed a 3-year deal worth more than $15 million dollars to play for the Brewers. "Last year, two years, three years ago, I had no idea what the future had in store for me and I'm very fortunate that David and the Brewers' organization looked at me with hope and believe in me and believe in my talent set."

Let me say this right off the top – no one knows what to expect with Thames.

We just don’t.

Anyone that tells you they do know is mistaken.

It’s all about projection with Thames, and that’s the scary part. Since we’re not really even sure what the baseline is with the slugger, it’s exceedingly difficult to get a handle on what reasonable expectations are with Thames. How much of his power will carry over? Should he be looked at as a stolen base threat after a 40/40 season? Is he merely a product of inferior competition?

So the truth is that we’re all just guessing with Thames. No one really knows, though it is fair to point out that a good amount of sources out there are bullish. Let’s take a look.

From Fangraphs.

 

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

Depth Charts

.259

30

89

79

12

Steamer

.272

29

83

71

13

Fans

.262

24

87

77

6

ZiPS

.247

26

79

73

10


Obviously, these sources are all similar, and all seem pretty aggressive to me. Do you know how many first basemen went .260-27-85-75-10 last year, the average of those four sources? The answer is none. Do you know how many outfielders went .260-27-85-75-10 last year? The answer is three: Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Ryan Braun.

Are you comfortable with those projections for Thames? I’m certainly not.

A few other trusted sources and their projections.

 

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

Baseball Prospectus

.239

17

69

62

7

Rotowire

.273

24

82

76

11

CBS

.265

19

58

51

3

The Fantasy Baseball Guide

.234

17

61

51

5

*BP – weighted mean of their projections.

The average of these four sources is much more manageable: .253-19-68-60-7.

I can buy this line.

Let’s add all eight projections up. When we do end up with a Thames projection of the following: .264-23-77-68-9.

Can I buy that line? I can, though I’m not at all sold that it’s anything other than a 100 percent outcome for Thames. However, even if I do accept that effort, does it stand out in any appreciably way? Context.

Here are a couple of the closest comps to that 5x5 line last season.

First Base: Brandon Belt
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna

Are you excited about either of those guys, I mean really excited?

 

 

Here are the facts.

We have a small sample size of offensive players who have come over to the majors.

The parks are smaller, the umpires stink and the ball is different in Korea.

The overall quality of pitching is also much less impressive, not to mention that pitchers are taught that a walk is about the worst thing they can possibly do.

The players that have come to MLB have seen their production cave.

The four major players who have come over have seen their homer production drop by more than half.

We just aren’t sure how to translate production from the KBO to Major League Baseball.

Those are the facts.

KBO COMPARISONS

Here is a list of players who have recently come to the big leagues from the KBO. The chart will include their last season in Korea and their first in the majors. It’s not a terribly inspiring list.

 

Level

Games

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

Jung Ho Kang

KBO

117

.356

40

117

103

3

 

MLB

126

.287

15

58

60

5

Dae-Ho Lee

KBO

141

.282

31

98

68

0

 

MLB

104

.253

14

49

33

0

Byung Ho Park

KBO

140

.343

53

146

129

10

 

MLB

62

.191

12

24

28

1

Hyun Soo Kim

KBO

141

.326

28

121

103

11

 

MLB

95

.302

6

22

36

1


The first thing you should notice that all the guys saw massive power dips. All of them, without an exception. The track record, and I will certainly posit that it’s very limited, is strongly suggestive that Thames has little to no chance of being a power hitter remotely close to what he showed in the KBO. Simply put, power numbers do not translate well from the KBO to MLB.

Thames ain’t going to be a guy challenging for the league lead in the power departments. Hopefully you get that by now.

THE SKILLS

A brief scouting report on Thames.

Strong work ethic. Liked by teammates. Has settled in at first base but can play corner outfield in a pinch (he played the outfield coming up). Has more of a line drive/gap swing than the loft associated with power hitters. Crushed 90 mph heat in KBO but there are concerns if he can consistently handle 95 mph. "He's a first-ball fastball hacker, boy. He's trying to hit the ball hard. Sometime you see guys who are happy to make contact and put the ball in play.”

PLAYING TIME

Thames will be the full-time first baseman with Chris Carter now with the Yankees.  

AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA

As of this writing, here is Thames ADP data.

 

Overall

Position Rank

NFBC

195.3

44th

MDA

181.7

17th


His position ranking is the outfield for NFBC, first base for the Mock Draft Army. Check your league to see if he qualifies at first base, the outfield, or both.

Fantasy Alarm Player Rankings


CONCLUSION

Thames was a nobody in North America. He went across the ocean, became a somebody (and more), and now returns triumphantly with superstar production in tow. I’m skeptical. The small data set we have with players coming the majors from the KBO is rife with letdowns. Thames himself ain’t a steals guy, his batting average will plummet, and it’s likely has a massive reduction in homer output. Thames is risky as all get out to me.

I listed the projections above, and the eight sources that were reviewed suggested that Thames is, at best, a corner infield option or a depth play in the outfield in mixed leagues. If that’s intriguing to you, go for it. However, if you aren’t thinking with your ‘I believe in unicorns’ brain you will understand why I’m just not bullish. As I say a lot, folks want to draft based on what could be while I prefer to draft on what is. You grab Thames, I’ll take Belt. You roster Thames, I’ll take Dexter Fowler. It’s possible that Thames is better than anyone thinks, but my read of the data suggests that unless you get Thames at a discount versus his current cost that it’s best to let someone else add him to their squad.

 

Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 8 PM EDT, Wednesday 7 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).

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