Thames, Sprints, and a Hart Homage

Remember early this season when everyone that didn’t think Eric Thames was on steroids (as John Lackey and the Cubs did) blamed the horrific Cincinnati Reds pitching staff for the success of the Milwaukee slugger? Well, it turns out they were mostly right.

Eight of Thames’s first eleven homers were in his 7 games and 25 at-bats against the Reds in the month of April. Since then, Thames has managed nine total homers in 50 games and 172 at-bats. Plus, who could forget the 15 game and 45 at-bat homerless drought from May 10th to May 30th?

Well, thirst no longer Mr. Thames, because the Reds are back on the schedule and they’re ready to help you engrain your spot in the MLB history books.

Currently, Thames is on pace to put up the best home run season against one specific team in MLB history. Entering play Tuesday, here are the top long-ball five performers in seven (or fewer) games:

Player Year Games Home Runs Team   Against
Eric Thames 2017 7 8 Cincinatti
Reggie Sanders 2001 7 7 Philadelphia
Shawn Green 2002 7 7 Milwaukee
Jose Bautista 2011 7 7 Minnesota
Barry Bonds 2001 6 7 Atlanta

It’s actually pretty unbelievable that he’s the only one to average over one homer per game over a seven game stretch, but what’s even more unbelievable is that to break the all-time record it wouldn’t take much of a Herculean effort.

Player Year Games Home Runs Team Against
Lou Gehrig 1936 23 14 Cleveland
Roger Maris 1961 18 13 Chicago White Sox
Hank Sauer 1954 19 13 Pittsburgh
Jimmie Fox 1932 22 13 Detroit
Joe Adcock 1956 17 13 Los Angeles Dogers

Thames has twelve total games left against the Reds (two more this week, three in August, and six in September). If he were to maintain his eight homers in seven games ratio through those remaining games, he’d finish the season with 21 homers against the Reds.

But, let’s say Thames regresses and can’t maintain his Ruthian ratio. On the season, Thames is averaging 0.26 HR/Game, and if one were to extend that ratio over a 12 game period, he’s likely to hit 3.38 homers.

Now, let’s add a Reds multiplier. To keep things on a similar plane, the Reds pitching staff surrenders 1.65 HR/Game, and over 12 games it is likely they give up 19.8 homers. On the season, Thames is responsible for 18 percent of all Brewer home runs, so if the Brewers were to hit 20 against the Reds, Thames should account for 3.6.

One more thing to look at is park factor. Since nine of the remaining games are in Miller Park, which boasts a .243 higher homer chance than Great American, the Brewers home run likelihood versus the Reds jumps to 23. And, Thames jumps to 4.14 homers.

So, Thames should hit at least more four home runs against the Reds in 2017, and with a little extra Reds pitching magic, he could easily set the record and have the single best home run season against one single team in MLB history.


Now, let’s move from power to speed.

On Tuesday morning, a chart measuring sprint speed from Baseball Savant gained a lot of traction on Twitter. Summed up, they measured all plays where a runner attempted to to advance two or more bases on a ball in play and calculated how fast that runner was going in feet per second.

Here’s how the Brewers stand:

Player Sprint Speed (feet/second)
Keon Broxton 29.4
Hernan Perez 27.7
Eric Thames 27.4
Domingo Santana 27.2
Jonathan Villar 27.2
Orlando Arica 27.1
Eric Sogard 26.8
Ryan Braun 26.7
Travis Shaw 26.2
Manny Pina 25.9
Jesus Aguilar 25.0
Jett Bandy (RIP) 24.2

Clearly, the biggest surprise is Thames, who clocks in as the fourth speediest first baseman in all of baseball. Thames clocks in just behind Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Jefry Marte, and he’s also the third fastest Brewer.

Also impressive is Keon Broxton, who’s the fifth fastest player behind the game’s notorious speedsters Billy Hamilton, Byron Buxton, Bradley Zimmer, and Franchy Cordero.

The only disappointing measure from this list is the speed of the middle infield. Arica ranks 29th among 39 shortstops while Villar and Sogard are 24th an 30th respectively in the field of 39 second basemen.


Finally, the player of the week is Brewer great, Corey Hart, who will retire this Friday as a Brewer and land himself in the “Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor.”

In honor of Hart’s illustrious career, here’s some of his greatest and somewhat random accomplishments.

Hart might be the greatest substitute in Brewer history. In his 93 at-bats off the bench, he accumulated 8 doubles, 4 homers, 20 RBI. He also hit .333 off the bench.

He’s also among the greatest right-fielders in Brewers history. I’ll give out the stats of the top three, you be the judge.

Player Years Games Slash Line OPS
Jeromy Burnitz 1996-2001 726 .258/361/.509 0.871
Corey Hart 2005-2012 730 .270/.328/.478 0.806
Sixto Lezcano 1974-1980 680 .275/.355/.459 0.814

Hart loved to feast on the first pitch. Over his Brewers career, he hit .390 with a 1.061 OPS and 31 homers while facing a 0-0 count. In the record books, that gives him the fifth highest batting average, ninth highest OPS, and sixth most home runs.

Hart was also a pretty good lead-off hitter. His .856 lead-off OPS is the highest in Brewer history, 52 points ahead of the second place Paul Molitor. Also, his .522 slugging percentage as a lead-off bat easily crowns him as the most powerful lead-off hitter in Brewers history (66 points in front of second place Carlos Gomez).

Aside from first pitches, Hart had two others loves: Miller Park and the month of June. At home, Hart had a .291 average, .891 OPS, and 94 homers. His OPS is the 10th highest in Brewer history and homers are the 3rd highest. Away from Miller Park, Hart dropped to .262 average with a .762 OPS and 60 homers.

As for the month of June, Hart sported a .284 batting average, .886 OPS, and 34 homers. This is the sixth best June split in Brewer history. Hart’s June performance was far better than his second best month, September, where he put up a .265 average and .810 OPS.

In fact, three of Hart’s six greatest games were in June. Take a look:

Date Opponent Result
June 11th, 2011 Cubs 4-7, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
July 29th, 2012 Nationals 4-6, 2B, HR, RBI
July 30th, 2012 Astros 4-5, HR, RBI
June 23rd, 2011 Nationals 3-5, 3 HR, 7 RBI, BB
June 29th, 2010 Mets 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI
September 5th, 2006 Dodgers 2-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI

Finally, Corey Hart finished his Brewer career with a 15.7 WAR, good for 16th best all-time, and his MLB career with a 14.7 WAR, good for 22nd overall among his 2000 draft class. That’s pretty good for an 11th round draft pick out of Greenwood High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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