Before we get into all the details and fancy metrics about Eric Thames' historic April outburst, I give you this, which is really all you need to feel good about life and baseball. He had his own song in Korea, and it is every bit as wonderful as you would imagine:
On Tuesday, Thames blasted his 11th home run for the Milwaukee Brewers. Eight of those have come against the Reds. He has played six games against them and homered in all six games. Note to Reds pitchers: Stop throwing meatballs to Eric Thames!
His return to the majors after three years in Korea has been the story of the month. Here's a graphic of his home runs:
All the pitches in Eric Thames' home run at-bats. Don't swing at balls, do swing at pitches in the middle of the strike zone. pic.twitter.com/b5PSnmajfE— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) April 26, 2017
The glorious details of all 11 home runs:
1. April 5 off Tyler Chatwood: 3-1, 95 mph fastball, 404 feet to right-center
It all began in the third game of the season. Thames went 1-for-4 in the season opener and didn't start the second game. Chatwood fell behind in the count with two balls, Thames fouled off a 2-0 fastball, Chatwood challenged him with an inside fastball, and Thames crushed it.
2. April 13 off Bronson Arroyo: 0-1, curveball, 384 feet to right-center
Thames went six games before hitting his second home run. Well, he played four games and sat in two. Jesus Aguilar started five of the Brewers' first eight games at first base, while Thames started the other three at first and once in the outfield. In other words, Thames began the season in a platoon role. Then came a road trip to Cincinnati and a 40-year-old pitcher who hadn't pitched in the majors in three years and twice led the league in home runs allowed when he was good. Thames wasn't going to miss this opportunity, and he hit a slow curve into the second row -- an out in many ballparks.
3. April 14 off Wandy Peralta: 1-2, 96 mph fastball, 416 feet to right-center
Peralta threw three sliders to begin the at-bat, twice getting Thames to swing and miss. Then he tried to slip a fastball past Thames. He didn't succeed.
4. April 15 off Robert Stephenson: 2-2, changeup, 392 feet to right
Stephenson got a swinging strike on a 2-1 changeup and came back with another one -- not a bad location, low and away -- but Thames yanked it out to right field.
5. April 15 off Tony Cingrani: 1-2, 96 mph fastball, 427 feet to center
For Thames' first homer off a lefty, Cingrani threw a fastball belt-high and middle of the plate. Major league hitters don't miss a pitch in that location too often, even if it's 96 mph.
6. April 16 off Tim Adleman: 2-2, 92 mph fastball, 432 feet to center
Adleman worked Thames backward in this at-bat, going three changeups and a curveball until the count got to 2-2. He threw a fastball up and a little in, and Thames hit his longest home run of the season so far. Note of some interest: The Reds set an all-time record for home runs allowed last season. They didn't exactly sign Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson in the offseason.
7. April 17 off John Lackey: 3-2, slider, 359 feet to left
This was an impressive at-bat, a 10-pitch battle that culminated in Thames' going opposite field and Lackey's making some veiled PED comments after the game. Thames fouled off four straight two-strike pitches before hitting a slider out. It was a Wrigley Field home run: It's not a home run in any other park.
8. April 20 off Carlos Martinez: 0-1, 94-mph fastball, 411 feet to left-center
Yes, Thames can hit them off good pitchers as well.
9. April 24 off Amir Garrett: 3-2, slider, 406 feet to right-center
The rookie lefty got two misses on sliders earlier in the count, but Thames was sitting on a slider, and it was a hanger.
10. April 24 off Garrett: 0-2, slider, 370 feet to left
Here's the impressive thing: Seven of Thames' 11 home runs have come with two strikes. Todd Frazier led the majors last year with 20 home runs with two strikes.
11. April 25 off Stephenson: 0-1, 92 mph fastball, 361 feet to right
Then there was this one, which set a franchise record for home runs in April. The Brewers have four games remaining in April, which gives Thames a chance to catch Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez, who share the record with 14 April home runs. But only one of the Brewers' four games is against the Reds.
Inevitably, because this is the way it works in baseball, Thames will have to answer questions about PEDs. Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy tweeted that Thames was tested after this game, and Thames said to bring it on.
Eric Thames was drug tested again tonight. "If people keep thinking I'm on stuff, I'll be here every day. I have a lot of blood and urine." pic.twitter.com/De1smFWVj7— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 26, 2017
Look, the guy is hot. He has faced a lot of bad pitching and has hit 10 of his 11 home runs in Cincinnati or Milwaukee, two of the best home run parks, and the other one was basically a routine fly ball at Wrigley. He's a much-improved hitter since his first stint in the majors, most notably showing great patience in not chasing pitches off the plate. And he isn't missing mistakes.
Let's all sing together now ... "Eric!"