Being Frank About Frank

The biggest loser at the hands of an over-saturated designated hitter market is none other than the Big Hurt himself, Frank Thomas. 40-years-old and finally removed from a nightmarish 2008 season, Thomas is recovering from a right quad strain that kept him out for the majority of the second half. Eric covered the corner outfield/DH types not too long ago, so how does Thomas stack up?

Last season was hardly the first time Thomas’ right quadriceps caused a stir. The same injury cost him a few weeks in 2006, which just so happens to be the renaissance of Thomas’ career. Recall that Thomas was in his first season with the Oakland Athletics on a contract suitable more for Charles Thomas than Frank. Not only did Thomas out earn his contract by 12 million, but he also earned himself a multiple year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, where again he would hit well enough to be worth eight-figures. Thomas and the Jays would have a falling out in early 2008, leading to his termination and return to the place of revival.

As an Athletic, Thomas saw his on-base percentage jump to .364, but still lacked the power that made him synonymous with homeruns in the 1990’s. As mentioned, Thomas’ quad would end his season early, but he still found a way to be worth positive value in 2008, finishing at 0.4 wins, or roughly 1.9 million.

Statistically, Thomas was fine. His line drive rates were in line with expectations, along with his batting average on balls in play, and walk rates. A slight increase in strikeout rates certainly was not to blame for his power collapse, so what gives? Thomas’ HR/FB percentage again declined, a trend that dates back to 2006. Down to 7.9%, Thomas would only hit eight homeruns, half of his total extra base hits.

Moving forward, the question is whether Thomas power was sapped due to his quad injury, or if this collapse is for real. It’s worth noting that this was the second worst offensive season of Thomas career behind 2001 which was also derailed by injuries. If teams feel comfortable placing the troubles on the big man’s right leg, which passes the logic test – Thomas leg-drive certainly plays a role in generating bat speed and power – Thomas can make a decent low-cost designated hitter option, capable of outplaying his paycheck.

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11 Responses to “Being Frank About Frank”

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  1. marcello says:

    Has he been mentioned in any rumors involving the Rays? It seems like that could be a good match.

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    • None to my knowledge. He’s probably on down the list, ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. and Eric Hinske.

      Popular thinking has the Rays landing Burrell, Abreu, or Giambi soon.

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      • marcello says:

        I guess those guys have some value in their flexibility, in that they can sort of play a position in the field whereas Frank cannot, and with Frank you’re betting on health and a rebound to 2007 form. However, they are going to cost way more. If Frank were to return to 2007 form (a risk, no doubt), wouldn’t he be worth about the same value as those three except at much lesser cost?

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  2. As I mention that, it appears the two sides are close to a 2-year 16 million dollar contract

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  3. Justin says:

    Wow, great deal for the Rays…………I am guessing it is a smaller contract because he will be mostly DH, with Joyce in RF. Great upgrades over Floyd and Gross……

    It would seem that the Sox would need to do something with the Yanks and Rays getting better, but what should they do? They do not need to upgrade pitching and sign a Lowe, especially since they signed Penny.
    The only feasible option would be to sign Dunn to play 1B to a 2 yr deal, and mve Youk over to 3rd, then when Lars is ready, he can step into the 1B hole in a few years……….sounds like the only reasonable option…………

    Putting all of our chips on the health of Papi and Lowell is not very smart……….

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    • The Sox are good all ready. There’s not much room for upgrade outside of landing Teixeira and just hoping for better health next season. Plus, Bard and Penny should be upgrades over Varitek/Colon.

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  4. Jurgen says:

    “As an Athletic, Thomas saw his on-base percentage jump to .364, but still lacked the power that made him synonymous with homeruns in the 1990’s”

    Not to quibble, but was Thomas ever synonymous with homeruns? Wasn’t the “complaint” against him throughout the ’90s that despite his linebacker size he didn’t hit more of ‘em? Sure, he’s accumulated a lot of them, but it’s always been that otherworldly OBP that’s been his calling card.

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  5. Justin says:

    I understand, but we did finish 2nd, granted Papi and Lowell were injured, but as we stand idle, the Rays and Yanks are getting better. Youk can’t have a better season, and same with Dustin. No hitter is in for significant improvements, except for maybe Tek.
    Beckett will be better, but Penny is still a ?, and its not as if Colon pitched a lot. Masterson and Byrd held down the 5th spot and Penny will not be a huge improvement over those two (pitching in Fenway and the AL East is far different from pitching in pitchers paradise in LA and the NL West).
    All I am saying is that by taking Lowell out of the question and adding Dunn, you are getting better on O and will not have to rely on Lowell for a whole season. It will be devastating if both him and Papi miss time, but if Dunn was their if Papi went down, it would not have the same consequences…..

    I know I am looking at the worst possible scenarios and the Sox will be just fine and exteremly competetive, but a Dunn signing makes a lot of sense, IF, a few things happen
    1) Make sure he realizes he will be playing for the Boston Red Sox and not the Reds, and he needs to take this seriously
    2) Make him work out with players like Youk and Pedrioa for the next few months
    3) Take hundreds of groundballs daily at 1B to sharpen his skills
    If he would be willing to do these 3 things……by all means sign him

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