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Jim Thome, Revised July 14, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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In an earlier post, I predicted that if Jim Thome stayed healthy, he’d hit the 600 home run mark at some point in late July, with a loose prediction that he’d hit it around July 26 (the Twins’ 100th game). Since he got hurt, and since he’s been playing hurt for a while, it’s worth refiguring the date.

Thome needs five home runs.

This year, Thome has hit 6 home runs in 128 plate appearances for a rate of .046875 home runs per plate appearance, or one home run every 21 1/3 plate appearances. That’s down quite a bit from his career rate, which worked out to one home run every 13.5 plate appearances. Since his return, though, he’s hit 2 home runs in 34 plate appearances, or one every 17. If that represents his true production, then he’ll need about 5*17 = 85 plate appearances to hit five more home runs.

Since his return, Thome has averaged 2.8 plate appearances per game he played in, but he’s had two nights off. Per team game, that works out to 2.4 plate appearances. That means, roughly, he’ll need about 85/2.4 = 35.4 team games to hit those 5 home runs, or, to round it up, he’ll probably hit his 600th 35 games from now. That 35th game is team game #124, at home against the Yankees on August 18th. If he maintains his 2.4 plate appearances per team game and he produces at his career rate (every 13.5 plate appearances), he’ll need about 68 plate appearances, or 28 games and change. The 29th game is on Friday, August 12, in Cleveland. (Wouldn’t that be sweet for Thome?) If he continues hitting ever 21 1/3 plate appearances, that means he’ll need about 107 plate appearances, or about 44 games and change. The 45th game is August 27, at home against Detroit.

It’ll become easier to nail down, but there’s about a ten-day window where I’d lay my odds for Thome to hit #600. If I had to narrow it down to a week, I’d shoot for the six-game series that starts on the road at Detroit on August 15 and ends at home against the Yankees on August 21. That accounts for Thome’s depressed home run production but doesn’t penalize him for playing hurt the way that assuming his pre-injury rate would.

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