As the month of April winds down, the Milwaukee Brewers have gotten off to a surprising start. Through 23 games they are 12-11, just a game behind the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central standings.
Free-agent signing First Baseman Eric Thames has been a big part of Milwaukee’s early season success, with an MLB-leading 11 HR and 19 RBIs. Thames signed a three-year deal with the Brewers in November, after spending three seasons with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). While in Korea, Thames excelled, batting .349 with 124 HR and 382 RBIs in three seasons. He was a two-time KBO All-Star and won the league’s MVP in 2015. Prior to his time in Korea, Thames spent part of the 2011 and 2012 seasons with both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.
Thames’s hot start has some questioning whether or not he is using performance-enhancing substances. Cubs Pitcher John Lackey and the team’s Pitching Coach Chris Bosio both questioned the authenticity of Thames’s success to start 2017 after Chicago’s most recent series with the Brewers.
In baseball, why does the steroid word immediately have to be mentioned, when somebody unexpected and unheard-of starts out a season well? It’s understandable, in some ways, because of baseball’s history, but, at the same time, it is incredibly unfair to Thames to automatically think he is cheating. Maybe going overseas really changed the way he approached the game of baseball and it took him just a little while longer to reach his full potential. It’s almost a given that once there is more of a book on him, his numbers will level off and end up like statistics of any typical first baseman in MLB.
Cynical baseball world: stop questioning Eric Thames’ability and let’s just enjoy seeing this incredible story write more chapters as the 2017 season continues.