The simple job? Replace Manny Ramirez in left field. The Dodgers ended the 2010 off-season with a number of holes which needed to be filled. The hole in left field was already there (as the Dodgers traded Manny to Chicago) but the team has pretty much sucked since Manny stopped being the every day left fielder. Additionally, the team needed to find 3 starting pitchers, a catcher, a second baseman, and fill out the bullpen. While some of these holes were filled out in different ways (TWSS), the left field job seemed to be shaping up as a platoon opportunity, with Marcus Thames (who crushes lefties) and Jay Gibbons splitting the duty. As the Dodgers prepare to break camp though, Thames seems to be the only definite for that spot, and as the best hitter of the prospective left fielders (Gibbons, Xavier Paul and Tony Gwynn Jr. ) it'll be interesting to see if Manager Don Mattingly sticks with a straight platoon or starts to lean on Thames more as an everyday player.
Marcus Thames has put up some pretty remarkable home run rates throughout his career. For his career (which goes back to 2002) Thames has homered once every 15.58 at bats, which is good for 27th best all time. From 2006 to 2010, Thames has homered once every 14.93 at bats, fourth best during the AL during that span. And my personal favorite is the home run stretch he went on in 2008 with the Tigers where he hit 9 home runs during a two week span, and during that time went on a run where all 8 of his hits were home runs (remarkably, his batting average went down during the two week period.)
Thames signed a one year deal with Dodgers on January 18th. The deal is for $1MM and pays up $800,000 in additional incentives.
|2011 Projections - Age 34 Season|
As I mention earlier, I'm curious to see if Donnie attempts to lean more on Thames in an everyday role, but his career to this point does not support such an attempt. Thames has never reached 400 plate appearances in a season, has played generally poor defense, and has a considerable platoon split to work with (wOBA of .358 vs lefties compared to .329 against RHP.) As such, I would hope that Donnie would try to limit Thames and play to his strengths, but that will only work if somebody like Gibbons, Paul or Gwynn steps up.
Even though Thames' 2010 was built on a bit of BABIP good fortune (.345 BABIP- a career high) I'm bullish on Thames, and I think his move to the NL will be a good one. I predict a line of .275 / .320 / .460 in 310 plate apperances.
What is your guess for Marcus Thames in 2011? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, plate apperances, and any other stats that you feel are relevant.