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2017 Most Valuable Brewer #9: Eric Thames

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
From KBO MVP to #9 on the Brewers...
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Had Brew Crew Ball voted for our Most Valuable Brewer vs. the Cincinnati Reds, Eric Thames would have won in a landslide. Had BCB voted for our Most Valuable Brewers in the month of April, Eric Thames would have won in a landslide.

But against all teams, and over the whole season, readers voted Thames in as the #9 most valuable team member.

Thames slashed .247/.359/.518, for an OPS of .877. His 31 homers tied Travis Shaw for the team lead, his slugging percent led the team, his OPS led the team, his on base percentage was fourth, he had the third most RBI, and he scored the third most runs. Thames led the team in walks. He tied for the team lead in being hit by pitches (making his body armor a good investment!), and only hit into 6 double plays all season.

Thames’ oWAR was third on the squad at 2.3, his WAR came in sixth (1.4), with a dWAR of -1.7. His defensive runs saved came in at -1, a very acceptable number.

So why did Eric Thames trail eight other Brewers in BCB’s voting? The opposite of recency bias, for one thing. He was less productive in the middle of the season and not as good as his start at the end, but it is worth noting that his strong April gave the club a boost in its attitude (not to mention its win total) on a team not expected to do much.

While his defense at first base was acceptable, he was less efficient in the outfield. He was solid on balls he got to, but his range as an outfielder was poor, and his arm was average.

Just as a reminder of how good his start was, here are his numbers for April: In 103 plate appearances, Thames had 6 doubles, 11 homers, scored 28 runs, and drove in 19. He walked 19 times and slashed .345/.466/.810, for an OPS of 1.276. Those are some mighty fine numbers, folks! He hit 8 of his 11 April homers against the Reds, but his numbers against the rest of the league in April were solid against the rest of the league, too. (.333/.438/.650, OPS 1.088).

Thames was undervalued in this voting. Along with Jesus Aguilar, the Brewers will have a solid tandem at first heading into the 2018 season.

And then there’s this:

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference