Jim Thome was elected to the Hall of Fame on January 24th. Given my recent obsession with the three true outcomes, I immediately recognized the significance of this event. I believe Jim Thome is the first, and likely the last three true outcomes Hall of Famer.
Table 1 shows Thome’s home run, walk, and strikeout rates along with his three true outcomes rate for each season. The final column is the MLB average three true outcomes rate for the season. Thome was a three true outcomes machine from 1996 until his retirement in 2012.
Table 1. Jim Thome, Three Outcomes Hall of Famer
Thome was part of a small group of specialists with multiple dominant three true outcomes seasons. Table 2 provides a list of players with 4 or more of these dominant seasons. I consider a season with at least 170 plate appearances and a 49% three true outcome rate as a dominant season. The casual three true outcomes observer will recognize the players on this list as notable specialists. Rob Deer, of course, is the iconic three true outcomes hitter. I used Deer’s career three true outcomes rate of 49% and 4 dominant season to construct the table.
Table 2. Dominant Three True Outcomes Specialists
Thome’s 10 dominant seasons are more than any other player. He is also the only Hall of Famer on the list.
Maybe Mark McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame (depending on your PED era position). Already past eligibility to be inducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), perhaps he will have a chance in the future with the Veterans Committee.
Adam Dunn will be on the 2020 ballot. He was a consistent three true outcomes specialist, but we will see if the BBWAA consider him a dominant player over the course of his career.
Russel Branyan and Jack Cust are interesting players to see on this list. Branyan makes the list because of my 170 plate appearance requirement. Cust was a dominant three true outcomes hitter for five straight years, 2007-2011. Neither are on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Carter and Avila do not have contracts for 2018, but could land somewhere. Davis is signed with Baltimore through 2022. Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge are two young hitters in the three true outcomes mold not yet on the list. So maybe it is too soon to make a judgement on the Hall of Fame potential of three true outcomes hitters in the future?
But I am going out on a limb to say that despite the trend towards three true outcomes baseball, we have seen our first and last three true outcomes Hall of Famer in Jim Thome.