Currently Historic: Here comes Jim Thome

Welcome to this week’s edition of Currently Historic. This week, we want to extend an extra bit of thanks to THT Editor-in-Chief Joe Distelheim for updating some of the stats below as I was off the grid on Wednesday. Thanks to Joe, all stats are current through Tuesday.

Several have commented (most recently Paul E) on the greatness of Carlos Beltran over the last several weeks. When I started researching this, Beltran wasn’t someone I thought to look at. I think, like many people, I fell into the trap of forgetting how good he was. I know when to admit that I was wrong though. This season, Carlos has become the eighth member of the 300/300 club, he’s collected his 400th double, his 2,000th hit, his 1,200th RBI, and scored his 1,200th run. Those numbers aren’t all illustrious enough for me track them on their own, but together, they paint a picture of an outstanding ballplayer.

Carlos, I’ve spent some time staring at your stats now. I don’t think you’re about to do anything else ridiculous, but I tip my cap to you and am prepared to be proven wrong.

Inexplicably missed was that David Ortiz is just one homer away from 400. I don’t know how I glazed over that one, but thanks to Leonidas Jones for pointing that out.

Now, it’s time to get down to serious business. There has been a major—MAJOR!—development that is going to allow a player to make a serious run at an all time record. This week, Jim Thome was traded to the Orioles, and from everything I’ve read looks to be their regular DH. Thome, you may recall, recently tied Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time home run list. But now, he has the chance to do something truly historic.

Over the course of his career, Thome has, on average, struck out almost exactly once per game. He currently has 2,518 games played and 2,513 strikeouts. The all-time record holder for Ks is Reggie Jackson with 2,597. Jim Thome, ladies and gentlemen, is 84 strikeouts from the record. There are 83 games remaining for the Orioles and Thome isn’t particularly likely to play in every single one of them, but if he stays healthy and hits, and continues to strikeout at a roughly normal rate for his career, he could be taking home the all-time K-king crown at the end of the year.

Congratulations, Mr. Thome, you’ve earned a top spot for the coming weeks on Currently Historic.

Derek Jeter, who we looked at extensively last week, is safely ensconced at 10th all-time in singles. He’s a good week away from sliding past Tony Gwynn for ninth. He also passed Cal Ripken this week for 14th all time in hits. Nap Lajoie is within shouting distance, but it’s going to take Jeter most of the rest of the year to get there. After that, he’ll need a few handfuls to slip past Eddie Murray into 12th. If his season goes especially well, he’ll also pass Willie Mays for 11th.

R.A. Dickey had an excellent start this week and his 12 wins put him on pace for 24. He started last night and though those stats aren’t included here, if he won, he’s back on a pace to get to 25. If not, he’s still got some work to do.

In his quest for the pitching triple-crown, he’s got some work to do as well. He still leads in wins, but he’s third in ERA and 2nd in strikeouts. Striking out more than Stephen Strasburg for the rest of the season is going to be a tall order. However, if he can keep pulling off starts where he throws eight innings and strikes out ten, he just might manage. Keep a close eye on him.

Joey Votto continues to have his roughest patch of the year. His hitting was picking back up, but then he came up with a minor knee injury and had to sit a couple of days. He’s currently tied for third in the batting race and that’s what’s keeping him off-pace for the saber-triple crown. However, of the other in the top five, Votto has the best career average and only David Wright is also above .300, so you still have to like Joey’s odds of pulling off the average-slugging-on base trifecta.

Even sitting a couple of days couldn’t shake him of the pace for the doubles record. He managed three this week and is still on pace for 67. As a reminder, the record is 67. Even if he doesn’t break the record, he’s looking like he has a really good shot to be the first person since the 1936 to top 60 doubles in a season.

Sadly, we’re going to stop tracking Votto’s OBP. Though hitting the .500 mark would be truly great, he’s fallen off recently and now checks in at only .471. If he picks it back up, so will we, but that was always a long shot.

Adam Dunn continues to amaze. He struck out not quite as much this week and is now on pace for “only” 255 strikeouts. He is just going to shatter the old record this year. I can feel it. He also now needs only 65 Ks to get to 2,000. Additionally, he hit a pair of homers and is now 10 away from 400. His three true outcomes numbers are still just silly. He finishes a plate appearance with a walk, homer, or strikeout 62 percent of the time and is on pace to finish with 438 TTOs.

And in brief:

Miguel Cabrera is seven home runs from 300. Ryan Howard (286) is rehabbing now and should be back soon.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

Alex Rodriguez is still 18 homers away from Willie Mays. He is now only 12 strike outs away from 2,000. I’m guessing two or three weeks on that one. Given his past RBI exploits, I still can’t convince myself to stop tracking his RBI total, but at 1,928, he’s really going to have to get on it if he wants the chase for 2,000 to keep taking up space here.

Bobby Abreu still has 395 steals. Jose Reyes had a big week, swiping three bags, to get to 389. Jimmy Rollins grabbed two and is sitting on 387.

Todd Helton (567) and Bobby Abreu (564) made no progress at becoming two of the 20 best doubles hitters ever.

Joe Savery pitched again this week and, unsurprisingly, the Phillies lost. That’s 17 appearances now without his team winning. We’re still rooting for you, Joe.

Let me know what I’m missing in the comments and we’ll see you next week.

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Jason teaches high school English, writes fiction, runs a small writing program and writes about education and literature. He also writes for Redleg Nation and both writes and edits for The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @JasonLinden, visit his website or email him here.
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What about A-Rod and Jeter moving up the Runs Scored list?  By the end of the year, A-Rod should pass Gehrig for 10th;  Jeter should pass Mel Ott for 13th.

David P Stokes
David P Stokes

Gotta agree with what the other David said about Strassburg.  It’s my understanding that the Nationals still intend to strictly limit his total innings this season, which means that he should be expected to pitch less in the 2nd half of the season than he has in the 1st half.  Granted, if Washington stays in the thick of the pennant race, it’ll be tougher for them to restict his use, but OTOH if they’re looking good for getting to the postseason, they’ll want to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Great article.  I lived in Cleveland when Thome was a force majeure there, and he did strike it often.  I never realized that be day he might challenge Reggie for the record, so excellent journalism on that point. Dickey continues to amaze.  I hope he can stay cool and calm in his remaining starts.  My theory remains, so far, that Dickey was a bit too excited during his start against the Yankees.  We should watch carefully during e All-Star game to see if the higher pressure situations affect hisknuckleball adversely.  I may be way off-mound (pun intended), but we are… Read more »

I wouldn’t count Dickey out of the SO race.  Strasburg will probably have his innings limited pretty severely as the season nears its close, so it wouldn’t shock me if Dickey slid to the top of the leaderboard.