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Phillies nuggets: Does Jim Thome deserve to be a Wall of Famer?

Yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that former first-baseman Jim Thome will be enshrined into the team's Wall of Fame in August of 2016. 

Though Thome had a short period of dominance with the team, his selection to be the next inductee to the wall of fame hasn't been unanimously praised. 

Make no mistake, no one is debating Thome's place in the history of the game. Thome is just one of eight players in MLB history to hit over 600 home runs. Out of that group, he stands with just Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. as the members of the 600 home run club that have never been connected with performance-enhancing drugs. So Thome is unquestionably going to be elected to the Hall of Fame. 

That said, he built a majority of that legacy with the Cleveland Indians. In two stints with the club, he had 337 home runs.

Frankly, though Thome is more locally and nationally remember with the Phillies than the Chicago White Sox, his legacy with the White Sox may actually be better than with the Phillies. Thome played in parts of four seasons with the Phillies, but his first stint with the Phillies only saw him play two full seasons, with injuries limiting him to just 59 games in 2005. Thome came back to the Phillies in 2012, but only played in 30 games as a pinch-hitter. Statistically, Thome hit 101 home runs and drove in 281 runs with the Phillies, while he hit 134 home runs and drove in 369 runs in four seasons with the White Sox.

Thome's most memorable moment with the Phillies was his 400th home run, though that really was just one of the great moments of his career. He hit his 500th home run on a walk-off home run with the White Sox and his 600th home run came while he was playing for the Minnesota Twins. 

Philliedelphia's Historical contributor Matt Albertson says that the amount of success that Thome had in Philadelphia, which he says is relatively small compared to the rest of his career, is one of the many reasons he objects to Thome's induction. 

Thome's stint in Philadelphia was a small part of a great overall career. He had great numbers with the club, but he didn't win an MVP, didn't take the team to the playoffs and didn't win a World Series. He may have ushered in the pieces the Phillies needed, but the Wall of Fame should be reserved for those who are identified as a Phillie first and foremost and put up numbers for an extended period of time. 

It should be noted, Thome's short career in Philadelphia shouldn't be punished for the amount of overall success he had in his 22 seasons in his career. But Alberstson's point is well-taken, especially when historically great Phillies like Fred Luderus, who Alberston says he voted for, were on the ballot. 

The problem with Wall of Fame voting, depending on your perspective, is that when it is given to the fans, it becomes more about sentiment than who is the most qualified. Luderus is a better overall Phillie than Thome, but he played for the club from 1910 to 1920. Very few people who watched Luderus play are still alive, and probably none of that small crowd voted. Virtually everyone that voted probably watched Thome play for the club, and though it was only for a short period, they probably have fond memories of the slugger. 

So does Thome deserve to be a Phillies Wall of Famer? Who knows. He certainly wasn't the most qualified player on the list. But many credit him with leading the Phillies into the most successful run in franchise history, even if he wasn't there to reap the rewards. He's also universally considered a nice guy, and a speech from him celebrating his short time in Philadelphia will make for a fun evening at Citizens Bank Park. Perhaps the Wall of Fame is more about creating a fun event than making sure every piece of club history is properly put in its place. 

Phillies nuggets

  • Brad Lidge and Roy Halladay, both of whom also have sentimental-based cases, are the early favorites to be the 2017 selection, in my mind. 
  • On Opening Day, Jonathan Papelbon got Jeff Francoeur to fly out to left-field, where Jayson Werth made the catch. It was strange. 
  • As for the 2016 Phillies Opening Day, it was ugly. This article initially was going to be centered around Jeremy Hellickson's impressive start in the season-opener, but David Hernandez and James Russell were the key cogs in an eighth inning bullpen meltdown that overshadowed Hellickson's performance.
  • The Phillies blew an Opening Day save in 2013, but at that time they had Jonathan Papelbon at the back-end of the bullpen, and Ken Giles on the horizon. Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa aren't Papelbon and Giles, and the 2016 Phillies best reliever may actually be Jeanmar Gomez. 
  • Though I'm normally not a fan of teams having a day off after Opening Day, it was probably in everyone's best interests for the Phillies to have off yesterday. 
  • I wish the MLB did traditional double-headers for Opening Day. The off day after would then make more sense. 
  • There's nothing quite like watching MLB.TV this first week of the season. That said, flipping from game-to-game makes me wish there was something like NFL RedZone for baseball. Obviously, the nature of football lends itself more to something like RedZone, but for the later innings of games, that style would be awesome for baseball.

Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is managing editor of Philliedelphia.com, focusing on news and features.

Comments

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randy

i thought one had to play at least 5 years, with the phillies to get on the wall of fame. i think thats a bad rule, among other players brad lidge would not be eligible.

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