This is an article about surprising hitters, oodles of them, all over the place, like that video where the guy pokes the pile of black fuzz and thousands of baby spiders emerge DON’T GOOGLE THAT. These aren’t your typical April and May surprises, the kind you can chalk up to sample size, the kind that will go away by July. These are bizarre stories that make me reevaluate just how much I know about baseball.
It’s hard to remember Jim Thome as a third baseman because we’re so used to his years as a first baseman. But he played third for six years, and he was generally OK. Just not as good as Matt Williams.
Imagine an 18-year-old Thome, hitting .237/.314/.296 while making 15 errors at shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Indians. He must have been so skinny, so spindly. There’s no way he could have been America’s Baseball Dad back then, even if he was clearly America’s Baseball Dad before he turned 30. He was moved to third base the next year.
There were a lot of contenders for this spot, and I was tempted to go with Tim Raines. Heck, I wonder if Chet Lemon becomes a Hall of Fame candidate if he sticks at short, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Mike Schmidt could have handed the position, too. But I think we’ll all agree that Thome is the funniest choice.
The ’60s saw the mound get lowered because pitchers were too dominant, and the ’70s saw the rise of fake grass, roofs, and concrete. The ’80s were filled with stolen bases, and the ’90s were filled with hideous logos.