I have nothing bad to say about Eric Thames as a person. In interviews and public appearances, he seems to be genuine, intelligent and humourous. He has style, grace and a whole bunch of other descriptives found in the lyrics to Vogue. Perhaps most importantly, he has what the French call “the elan,” and what Blue Jays fans call “the swagger,” that the people of Toronto seem to love.
He has all this, but I have my doubts that he has the ability to be much more than a fourth outfielder.
Last night in Baltimore, as the Blue Jays inexplicably lost to Tommy Hunter and the Baltimore Orioles, we saw the best and worst of what Thames has to offer.
First, the best:
Thames became only the 58th player in the 20-year history of Camden Yards to hit a home run out onto Eutaw Street. It was a massive home run.
But then, Thames displayed his worst:
For once, he didn’t actually have a bad route to the ball. However, the tentativeness with which he took that route cost him dearly as he sped up at the end of his run, unsure of his surroundings, and had to jump toward the potential catch rather than be there waiting for it.
The ball ultimately ricocheted off his glove and into the stands at Camden Yards.
This one play isn’t enough to suggest that Thames is nothing more than a fourth outfielder. It is, however, indicative of his defensive shortcomings. That, combined with his horrible walk rate at the Major League level and the unsurprising disappearance of his power stroke so far this year do all the suggesting necessary.
Meanwhile, Travis Snider rakes in Las Vegas. Yes, we’ll note the location’s supposed rakeability here, but then we’ll go on to suggest that Snider is a better option than Thames, both in the future, as well as right now because he can play better defense, he can take a walk (yes, even at the Major League level despite what last season might have suggested), and most importantly, he can offer everything that Thames can, and even go the opposite way with it.
General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has spoken about the mistakes of the past in not allowing Snider to complete a single season all at one level. That one level should be the Major Leagues, not Triple A. I don’t understand what Eric Thames has done to deserve that honour ahead Snider.