It’s fun to wistfully look back on the days when I thought Curtis Granderson might just hit 35 home runs this year in Yankee Stadium.
Well, maybe it’s not that fun.
It was easy then — you know, in February — to overlook the return of Marcus Thames, what with all the excitement surrounding the signing of Randy Winn.
But seriously. Of the two somewhat-hobbled, aging outfielders, I thought Winn — not Thames — would end up contributing to the most to the Yankees this year. I liked his speed and defense. And, like most Yankees fans, I was probably desperately trying to come to terms with Johnny Damon’s departure — which I viewed as painful but necessary.
But here we are at the end of August and it’s Thames who, perhaps more than any of the Yankees’ off-season pick-ups (save maybe Nick ‘Glass Jaw’ Johnson), continues to be exactly as advertised: A sluggish outfielder who absolutely hammers left-handed pitching.
In 134 at-bats, Thames is hitting .313 with five home runs, counting the one he launched tonight off Blue Jays lefty Marc Rzepczynski. He’s getting on base at a .399 clip.
More interesting, while Thames has generally punished left-handed pitching more, his homer off Rzepcynski was just his second off a lefty this year. The rest, including this memorable walk-off job (video link) against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, have come against righties.
Sure, he plays a clumsy left field and strikes out nearly a third of the time. But for $900,000 — a pittance in Yankeeland — Thames was a steal and has proved himself far more useful than Brian Cashman probably could have imagined.
Check out his splits, courtesy of Baseball Reference:
|vs RHP as RHB||54||15||1||3||12||9||19||.278||.379|
|vs LHP as RHB||76||24||4||1||5||8||21||.316||.391|