September Twin of the Month: Jim Thome
Since the Twins clinched the Central on Sept. 21 their staff has approached opposing batsmen with all the aplomb of C.C. Sabathia eyeing a salad bar.
It hasn't been pretty, although I'm not sweating the mess of the past week. A good spray of champagne in the mug always feels worse the day after. Should the club continue to belie their otherwise exceptional 2010 come this final series with Toronto however, then we really do have some concern of our hands.
But I'm of the opinion that the Boys will regenerate upon their return to Target Field as we collectively await the nearing of what may be the most sanguine early October in the club's 50-year history.
Perhaps it's not a matter of mere coincidence that said slumpage mirrors the recent absence of 40-year-old Jim Thome from the lineup. Thome hasn't played since the clinch night, having missed the past seven games due to muscle problems in his back. As recently evidenced by the captivating cover shot on Sports Illustrated, his impact in both the batter's box and Twins clubhouse has become the stuff of modern folklore. And despite the brevity of his September, Jim Thome is my Twin of the Month.
As offered herein a few weeks back, Thome's Labor Day shot off the American flag pole has stuck with me like sweet pine tar to white ash. But his month wasn't defined by that blast alone. For the season, Thome has averaged an RBI once every 4.6 at bats (6th in baseball) and a home run per every 10.8 at bat, a mark good for second in baseball, trailing only MLB bomb leader Jose Bautista of Toronto. While Thome has appeared in just 15 games this month (in which the Twins are 12-3) he made the most of his time.
In 56 September plate appearances, Thome boats a line of 13 walks and seven home runs; in that measured plate sampling he's etched a batting line of: .357 average/.518 on base percentage/.881 slugging. The latter clip is not only the best in baseball for the month to date, but it also charts as the finest slugging month of Thome's eventual Hall of Fame career. In addition, the batting mark is his monthly best since hitting .364 in March of 2004 and the on base percentage is his finest since the .553 clip he crafted in April of 2007.
Between 9/4-9/16, Thome ran off an eight-game hitting streak. At the onset of that stretch he hit five bombs in a four-game homer stretch between 9/4-9/11. Crunching the power production further finds the Twins HR leader (25 overall) launching a rocket once every six at bats this month, while accruing an RBI once every 6 at bats.
Now owning 589 career home runs in his 20-year career, Thome is eighth on baseball's all-time list, and it's worthy of note that of the top-14 sluggers in MLB history, six of those dudes (including three ahead of him) are either confirmed or suspected juicers.
With the postseason now just a week away, we'll look for a rested Thome to extend both his September punch and past playoff success in the ALDS. In 207 postseason at bats, he's ripped 17 home runs, good for one per every 12.1 ab.
For the power, persona, professionalism and proficiency he's brought to the entire Twins organization in just a lone season (to date), Jim Thome is my September Twin of the Month. In recognition of the award, Jim receives a new HoMedics chair back massage device, compliments of C.P. web editor, Ms. Jen Boyles.
Previous Twins of the Month:
April -- Michael Cuddyer
May -- Nick Blackburn
June -- Carl Pavano
July -- Delmon Young
August -- Jesse Crain
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