One of Ozzie Guillen’s most controversial decisions this past winter was to tell Jim Thome thanks, but no thanks, when Thome expressed his desire to sign with the White Sox. Guillen has always wanted a flexible team that can steal bases and manufacture runs with speed, Thome will never be confused with that type of player. After being told he wouldn’t be signed by the White Sox, Thome took an offer to join the Minnestoa Twins as their left handed DH.
Thome has spent the entire season making the White Sox look like fools, while helping their biggest rival stay in the division race. In 232 plate appearances, Thome has posted a .404 wOBA. He has 14 homers, a .560 SLG%, and has been worth 1.8 WAR. Overall Thome is having his best season since 2007, and it could not have come at a better time for the Twins. With Justin Morneau out since July 8th with a concussion, Thome has been able to provide steady production and depth that was otherwise absent from the Twins roster.
Thome has certainly been helped by the overall depth of the Twins, meaning he doesn’t have to face tough left handed pitching. In his 58 plate appearances this season against left handed pitching, Thome has just a .738 OPS. He isn’t an everyday player anymore, and getting a daily platoon advantage certainly helps his overall numbers. Still his production this season has been nothing short of remarkable, and considering the White Sox current situation, one can’t help but second guess Ozzie’s choice.
If the White Sox had signed Thome and installed him into a platoon with Andruw Jones, how much better off would they be? His 1.8 WAR is a huge upgrade over what Mark Kotsay has brought all year (-0.6 WAR), position flexibility be damned. Ever since Guillen passed on signing Thome, the White Sox have been looking for a power hitting lefty. Thome’s .404 wOBA would be tied with Paul Konerko for the highest on the White Sox, and his .298 ISO would lead the team. He’s the exact player Kenny Williams has been searching for the entire season.
Instead he’s on the Twins, and helping them stay in the race with the White Sox. Expect Thome to DH tonight and Thursday, and don’t be surprised if he makes a big impact on this series. White Sox fans (and Twins fans) know Thome has a knack for getting the big hit, it’s too bad he’s still not doing it for the White Sox.