When I looked at the Brewers starting lineup this season, it was no surprise that most of the names did not stand out to me. Of course Ryan Braun was there, and the two younger guys in the clubhouse, Jonathan Villar and Orlando Arcia, have earned themselves a spot in the Brewers main nine. Other than those three, however, none of the names were recognizable.
But in the first 22 games of the season, one Brewers player is making a lot of noise in the baseball world, with an astounding 11 home runs. I have found myself asking a few times, Who is Eric Thames? Where did he come from? Well, let’s get to the bottom of this mysterious power hitter.
Eric Thames began his professional baseball career in 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was chosen in the seventh round out of Pepperdine University. Thames made his MLB debut in May of 2011. Brewers fans know that Thames is all about RBI’s so it is no surprise that his first recorded hit scored a run.
In July of 2012, Thames was traded to the Seattle Mariners. After being optioned to a Triple-A club, he was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles, where he was immediately optioned to their Triple-A team, the Norfolk Tides. In early September, Thames was optioned for reassignment and picked up off waivers by the Houston Astros. Before being released by one of Houston’s Triple-A clubs, Eric racked up two hits in four at-bats, including a home run.
Thames was released by the Astros in December of 2013. He signed with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball League. Thames showed his power in Korea, batting .343. He also hit 37 home runs and brought in 121 runs. While in Korea, Thames hit for the cycle twice (which is a single, double, triple and home run in the same game)! In 2015, Thames was named MVP of the Korean Baseball League, and rewarded a Golden Glove. Other accolades Thames earned while playing in Korea: Home run leader, runs leader, two time All-Star, batting champion and on-base percentage leader.
After the departure of Chris Carter, in November of 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Eric Thames to a three-year deal. Thames made his Brewers debut on opening day against the Colorado Rockies this season, where he played first base. Thames is already making an impression on the Brewers record book. On April 25, he hit his 11th home run, which is a Brewers record for the month of April. Thames must have a grudge against the Cincinnati Reds because eight of Thames’ 11 homers have come against them. As of today he is on pace to hit 81 home runs this season! 81! That is insane!
Thames is doing so well this season that he has been assigned three “random” drug tests so far. He is not put off by the tests, however, and encourages them to keep testing him because he is positive they won’t find anything.
“If people keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day. I have lots of blood and urine,” Thames said.
Thames could be the player to finally provide stability at first base, which has been a revolving door since Prince Fielder left. Not only has he made the Brewers exciting to watch this season he has also provided hope for a team that came into the season without a lot of high expectations. Every time he is up to bat he has me (and I’m sure many other fans) holding my breath, waiting to see what happens next. Thames has made the Brewers fun to watch again.
Probably just a Brewer fan’s hot take here, but I’m loving Eric Thames and he has MVP potential. He is breaking records and providing a spark for a team whose fans are excited for the rest of the season. If he continues to play like an All-Star we will see just how far Thames can carry the Milwaukee Brewers.