Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been following this year’s big story to start the season. I’m obviously referring to the monstrous start by Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Eric Thames. After 21 games, Thames is leading Major League Baseball in home runs, slugging, and OPS. As if his eleven bombs, .904 slugging, and 1.393 OPS weren’t impressive enough, he’s also batting .370. He’s done what he can to help the Brewers get off to a 12-12 start.
His major league-leading 11th home run on Wednesday was his eighth against the Cincinnati Reds. The two-run blast also set the franchise record for most home runs in April. He’s the first player ever to hit a home run against each of his first six opponents. His 11 homers are already third most by players who spent four or more seasons away from baseball. This is just a taste of how hot of a start Thames is off to.
Thames’ success overseas is no secret. One of the most popular questions among baseball fanatics heading into the season was how that success would transition to the majors. Well, Thames is letting his bat answer that question. He played three seasons with the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization. He collected 124 homers, 382 RBI, stole 64 bases, and batted .349. His best season came in 2015 when he hit 47 homers, stole 40 bags, and slashed an incredible .381/.497/.790. Thames earned the nickname “God” while overseas.
The 30-year-old clearly came back a different player, and the Brewers are reaping the benefits. Thames has fueled the offense but isn’t the only one hitting the ball well. Ryan Braun is quietly off to one of the best starts in his career. He’s batting .309 with seven homers, 18 RBI, and four stolen bases. Travis Shaw and Hernan Perez are off to respectable starts of their own.
As hot of a start Thames is off to, he can’t solve all of Milwaukee’s problems. Their pitching staff is worrisome, outside of Chase Anderson. Anderson is 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. No other starter has an ERA below 4.50. Their offense has its weak spots in Keon Broxton and Jonathan Villar, who both looked poised for great seasons.
With all that in mind, the Brewers have to be grateful that they are sitting at .500. Without Thames, Braun, and Anderson, they would be on the fast track to the cellar in the NL Central. They’re tied in the win column with the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers will finish up their weekend series with the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. They open the month of May with a tough task, as they’re set to face the Cardinals in a four-game series.