The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten off to a decent start to their 2017 season. The team is 9-8, but the record is deceptive of their performance and could easily be 11-6 after blowing back-to-back late game leads against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. The pitching has gone pretty much how everyone expected, lacking consistency and allowing opponents back into games, but the on offensive side, Milwaukee has looked fantastic.

Ryan Braun has been great, batting .288 in 52 at bats with 5 HR and 11 RBIs. New third baseman Travis Shaw has shown that he was a nice acquisition, and currently leads the team in RBIs with 16. But let’s be clear: Eric Thames is the most impressive player on the roster right now, and quite possibly the most impressive player in the MLB to start the season.

To make this simple, here is where he stands in major offensive statistics across the league:

Batting Average League Leaders:

  1. Avisail Garcia, CHW, .425
  2. Eric Thames, MIL, .415
  3. Freddie Freeman, ATL, .407
  4. Zack Cozart, CIN, .400
  5. Bryce Harper, WSH, .400

Home Run League Leaders:

  1. Eric Thames, MIL, 8
  2. Khris Davis, OAK, 7
  3. George Springer, HOU, 7
  4. Jay Bruce, NYM, 6
  5. Bryce Harper, WSH, 6

Slugging Percentage (SLG) League Leaders:

  1. Eric Thames, MIL, .981
  2. Freddie Freeman, ATL, .852
  3. Bryce Harper, WSH, .818
  4. Ryan Zimmerman, WSH, .778
  5. Nolan Arenado, COL, .763

On Base Percentage (OBP) League Leaders:

  1. Bryce Harper, WSH, .515
  2. Eric Thames, MIL, .500
  3. Chase Headley, NYY, .500
  4. Freddie Freeman, CIN, .500
  5. Avisail Garcia, CHW, .483

OPS (SLG +OBP) League Leaders:

  1. Eric Thames, MIL, 1.481
  2. Freddie Freeman, ATL, 1.352
  3. Bryce Harper, WSH, 1.333
  4. Ryan Zimmerman, WSH, 1.209
  5. Nolan Arenado, COL, 1.187

Runs Scored League Leaders:

  1. Eric Thames, MIL, 20
  2. Christian Yelich, MIA, 17
  3. Bryce Harper, WSH, 17
  4. Mitch Haniger, SEA, 15
  5. Chase Headley NYY, 14

Thames leads the league or is towards the top of the league in just about every single offensive statistic. Batting .415 with 8 HR and 14 RBI, he is by far the Brewers’ best bat thus far in 2017. The craziest part about all of this is that just last season, Thames was swinging for the fences in the Korean league of all places.

He played three seasons in Korea, batting .349 and accumulating 124 HR to go along with 382 RBI. Thames was simply too talented for the Korean league, and found his way back to the majors as a 30 year old when Milwaukee signed him to a three year, $15 million deal this offseason.

Thames attributes much of his newfound MLB success to his patience at the plate. During his first stint in the majors, Thames found himself being moved from team to team, and was often sent down to the minor leagues. When he made his way to Korea, he decided to try to stop swinging at bad pitches by adding personal incentive, stating that “starting in Korea, every time I chased, I put a dollar in the pot and I donated it at the end of the year.”

After honing his skills against lesser competition, Thames managed to stop swinging at everything and fixate himself on finding the pitches he likes to hit. “I keep emphasizing the power of zoning in on your pitch,” said Thames, and his work has paid off so far in 2017.

If Thames can manage to stay even remotely as hot at the plate as he’s been in 15 game appearances this year, he’ll likely end up in the All-Star game this summer, and if the rest of the team can pull their weight, Milwaukee will have a fighting chance to make the playoffs in one of the toughest divisions in baseball.
Quotes courtesy of ESPN.

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