About midway through the Saturday afternoon game at Camden Yards, the comment at work was made that the mentions of the Orioles on Twitter were blowing up. Granted, it wasn’t for the Birds’ game in the least, as they eventually dug their own graves in an 11-5 loss to Cleveland. Instead, attached to every tweet was the name of Jim Thome.
A veteran in the truest sense of the word, the 41-year-old is once again on an American League roster and serving as the O’s designated hitter. As an experienced hitter, Thome is extremely patient at the plate, seeing 4.2 pitches per plate appearance this year and over the course of his career. To put that into perspective, Brian Roberts, the Orioles’ prototypical leadoff hitter, sees an average of 3.95 pitches per plate appearance over his career. The major league average is 3.77.
Beyond being a true DH, which the Orioles honestly don’t have on their roster, the man can send some balls flying at Camden Yards. For the rest of the season, the Birds will play 39 games at home.
But what does that mean for Thome? And how can he help the Birds during homestands?
Immediately after the trade was made, another comment was made: “Man, can he crush it here at Camden.”
And to that, his numbers would respond with, “Ain’t that the truth?”
Although his batting average at Camden Yards is nothing that jumps out at you - .236 lifetime - Thome has hit 18 home runs in Baltimore. In 246 at-bats, he is slugging .492 with an OPS of .859.
While that is lower than his career OPS of .959, which is fourth among all active players, the fact of the matter is that Thome can hit and get on base in Baltimore.
This year, the Orioles’ designated hitters posted a meager .255 batting average and a .781 OPS before the acquisition of Thome. Granted, he didn’t have the best start for Baltimore; he went 0-4 in his debut in the loss to the Indians.
However, I think the best is yet to come for Thome in Baltimore. He has the resume to prove that he can absolutely crush balls at the hitters’ park, and he will get the chance to prove so in nearly, if not all, home games for the O’s.
He also has the leadership skills that were so well summed up by J.J. Hardy, as reported by MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski.
JJ Hardy played with Thome in 2010 - “He’s that superstar that acts like everyone else. He’s friends with everyone. The perfect teammate.”— Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) July 1, 2012
So even though the O’s gave away two decent prospects with high ceilings for Thome, we will see in the second half that getting him in orange and black for the rest of the season was more than worth it, especially as we watch in Baltimore.
AS far as designated hitters’ presence for the Orioles at Camden Yards this season, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Olivia Witherite blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and her opinions appear here as part of MASN’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.