Jim Thome Officially Retires

First baseman and five-time All-Star Jim Thome has officially retired after signing an honorary contract with the Indians today. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was the first to tweet the news. Thome, who will turn 44 next month, is a veteran of 22 seasons. The Indians unveiled a statue of Thome earlier today as part of the ceremonies.

Thome’s last major league stop was with the Orioles in 2012, where he posted a .257/.348/.396 line over 115 plate appearances. He was said to be looking for another opportunity this past offseason, and he’s also expressed interest in becoming a big league manager.

He’s best remembered for his 12 year stint with the Indians, where he contributed a career high 52 home runs in 2002. He also briefly returned for part of the 2011 season. The beloved first baseman blasted 337 out of 612 career home runs as an Indian. His home run total ranks first in franchise history – he’s 95 home runs ahead of second place basher Albert Belle. Thome was worth 45.7 fWAR during his time in Cleveland, despite generally negative fielding scores. Three of his All-Star appearances came with Cleveland. The Indians went to the postseason six times during the Thome era.

Fans of Philadelphia also have fond memories of Thome. While he never carried the Phillies to the postseason, he ushered in an era of competitiveness and free agent spending that coincided with the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park. Overall, he hit 96 home runs in his first stint with the Phillies and later returned to park five more in 2012. The Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox after the 2005 season to make room for Rookie of the Year first base prospect Ryan Howard (Howard went on to win the MVP in 2006). At that point in Thome’s career, injuries were making it hard for him to play in the field every day.

With a career .276/.402/.554 line and 612 home runs to his name, Thome seemingly has a strong case for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. The home run total ranks seventh all time. Fangraphs pegs his career Wins Above Replacement at 67.7 fWAR while Baseball-Reference has a slightly higher 72.9 rWAR. His reputation as one of the “good guys” of the steroid era may help his case, although he may also have to battle a dense ballot of candidates.

As previously mentioned, Thome was a five time All-Star, including three times with Cleveland, once as a Phillie, and one time with the White Sox. He never finished higher than fourth in the MVP voting (2003), but he garnered votes in eight seasons. He also won the Silver Slugger award in 1996. In addition to his six postseason appearances with the Indians, Thome visited October four more times – each with a different team. Unfortunately, he was never a part of a World Series Champion.

MLBTR wishes him well in his new career path and congratulates Thome on an excellent Major League career.

45 Responses to Jim Thome Officially Retires Leave a Reply

  1. bigbadjohnny 11 months ago

    Next stop…Hall of Fame.

  2. Dylan 11 months ago

    Class of MLB right there. Thanks for the memories in Philly Jim. You are going to make a great hitting coach!

  3. $114759666 11 months ago

    Thome has been killing my Tigers for what feels like eternity, but I am truly going to miss him.

    Seeing him chug around the bases in Minnesota for his first triple in a decade was one of the highlights of the last few seasons for me, as well as his good natured feud with Verlander and seeing him get number 600 in Detroit and the respect he got from a crowd whose hearts he’s broken so many times over the years…. classy a player as there is, and I really hope he makes the HOF.

  4. Leon Barry 11 months ago

    Too bad he never got a ring. Truly one of the good guys from all of the stories I’ve heard over the years. See you in Cooperstown Jim!

  5. BaseballBeisbol 11 months ago

    I’ll never forget his home run in game 163 versus the Twins in 2008. I’ve never seen such a mammoth shot, and it just so happened to be the only run of the game.

    A hall of gamer for sure, and in general, one of the greatest guys to play the game.

  6. ChrisSEA84 11 months ago


    • StevePegues 11 months ago

      [Thome played in the] Steroids [Era].

      There. Fixed that for ya. You’re welcome.

      • Leroy Kelly 11 months ago

        Not only did Thome play during the Steroids Era, he clearly was part and parcel of it, as well.

        I fixed that for ya, too. You’re very welcome.

  7. Phillyfan425 11 months ago

    Seemed like a great guy, and single-handedly turned the Phillies around in 2003 (ok, maybe not single-handedly, but it was close). He made Philly a place players actually wanted to go, instead of the barren wasteland it was.

  8. mikefichera 11 months ago

    so when does his hof clock start..this year or 2 years ago?

  9. Overbrook 11 months ago

    Isn’t he employed by the White Sox?

  10. sportsnut969 11 months ago

    Thome would be a great option for a hitting coach for Cleveland next season certainly better than the 2 guys that currently hold that title.

  11. Sufferfortribe 11 months ago

    My favorite player of all time. And now that Jason Giambi gave up his #25 jersey, it’s time for the Indians to retire it in Thome’s honor.

  12. peregrintook69 11 months ago

    Should have gotten a “victory lap” year somewhere, hell if Jeter gets one why not Thome?

    • peregrintook69 11 months ago

      I assume it is the difference of playing for only one team, but he’s probably one of, if not the, highest respected player in recent memory. Is Jeter higher?

      • Pandas_please 11 months ago

        I’m guessing it’s mostly because Thome didn’t announce a year in advance that he would retire. If he had I’m sure he would’ve gotten some kind of tribute.

        • NickinIthaca 11 months ago

          Getting a statue of yourself in front of a stadium is nothing to sneeze at…

          • Leroy Kelly 9 months ago

            It’s not in the front of the stadium, and the fact they built one for him as part of the deal to bring him back for a few months will always be a bad joke.

    • 108 stitches 11 months ago

      Truly I can’t give you a good answer. Best I can offer is “it just feels different.” Know one is going to be able to give you a logical answer that has not been built up by the media or Legend. They are both dead weight on a roster. That’s just true. The best answer is I guess the Yankees would be doing their own Brand harm for a few years at least if they let Jeter go out any other way. That’s probably the best answer. FYI- Babe Ruth-no victory lap despite a 5 WAR in 1934. Lou Gehrig-No victory lap for obvious reasons. Joe D-No victory lap, just decided he was done after the 51 World Series. Mickey Mantle-No victory lap, he actually gave it a go in 1969 spring training and realized “that was that.” Don Mattingly did get a victory lap Mo got one last year and so does Jeter.

    • olddude 11 months ago

      Because Jeter is still an active player where as Thome is not!

  13. Pandas_please 11 months ago

    No doubt Hall of Famer. Incredibly talented hitter.

    • Leroy Kelly 11 months ago

      So was Sammy Sosa. I wonder why.

      • Metsfan93 9 months ago

        not for nothing, but Jim Thome is a significantly better hitter than Sammy Sosa. Significantly.

        • Leroy Kelly 9 months ago

          Thome and Sosa were both strikeout artists. Thome is second all-time, Sosa is fourth all-time. Both would have been irrelevant if not for modern medicine.

  14. BraveCrowe 11 months ago

    I didnt realize that he was still trying to play, however my point is this, at the ripe old age of 25, Thome is one of the last greats that I watched play growing up. The other being Jeter, its really hard for me to wrap my head around that Chipper, Junior, Piazza, Biggio, Bagwell, Bonds, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Pedro, The Big Unit, Rivera, Sosa, BigMac are all gone. There were a lot of really talented players that were so fun to watch. I have the utmost respect for Thome and I hope he enjoys his life after baseball.

    • Nathan Boley 11 months ago

      The 90s were a special time for baseball, even if they have been tainted. Your list doesn’t even include guys like Griffey, Helton, Hoffman, Guerrero, Thomas, Clemens, Giambi (he’s still playing!) so many more. I still have cards for most of those game from when I was a child and I was admittedly heartbroken when all the steroids stuff came out. Really turned me off baseball for a few years (mid-2000s). But I’m back now.

      • fgsfsfbbbrd 11 months ago

        You guys are making me want to play Backyard Baseball again.

      • Metsfan93 11 months ago

        Just throwing it out there; BraveCrowe did list someone named “Junior” whom I assume is Griffey, right?

  15. Mike1L 11 months ago

    One of my favorite players–and I’m a Yankee fan. Worked hard, didn’t take himself too seriously, respected the game and played it the right way. Hope he makes the Hall when his time comes. We need a few more like him.

  16. Roy VI 11 months ago

    How can they not even mention his 17 at bats with The Dodgers?

    • Steve Corbett 11 months ago

      4 singles, 7 strikeouts. Thome himself would probably just as well forget it.

  17. Steve Corbett 11 months ago

    If you hadn’t included Clemens on your list, I’d be inclined to agree. I (speaking only for myself of course) can’t even remotely think about mentioning him in the same breath as Hoffman, Thomas, Griffey, etc.

  18. Sean Kelly 11 months ago

    an absolute class act- and one of the sweetest swings from the left side ever.

  19. StevePegues 11 months ago

    And your proof of that is… ?

    • Steve Corbett 11 months ago

      Thome, whether warranted or not, will bear the scarlet letter (S) of having his peak power seasons in that 1997-2003 era where this whole steroid mess is targeted. Unfortunately, Tony Gwynn also had a major power surge in 97-98 when he was in his late 30s, raising a few eyebrows. The world will never really know. And maybe it’s better that way.

      • Michael 11 months ago

        True. Kind of like finding out there’s no Santa Claus. You know it’s true, but seeing Mom and Dad putting the bike and the iPhone under the tree is a crushing blow.

    • Leroy Kelly 11 months ago

      My proof? Umm…eyeballs and common sense? Banjo hitters don’t gain 50 to 60 pounds and morph into power hitters. Not on Planet Earth.

      • StevePegues 11 months ago

        So, in other words, no proof at all.

        By the way: I made my last comment 6 days ago and you’re just responding now? Ever hear of just letting something go?

  20. Hats off to Jim Thome. I think the biggest thing working in his favor for the Hall of Fame is that he retained his massive power after the introduction of steroid testing. It’s a shame he couldn’t have stuck at third, I think he would have gotten a lot more recognition as the great player he was, if he had remained at third. The competition was absolutely brutal at first during his career.

    • Leroy Kelly 11 months ago

      Steroid testing. Oh, you mean like all the guys recently caught that have never flunked a steroid test. That steroid testing?

      Thome was no different than everybody else. His Twins season at the age of 39 was a classic example of a guy trying to extend his career and pocket a few millions before retirement. His season was a joke of monumental proportions. If 2010 isn’t proof that he was dirty, I don’t know what is.

  21. doyers 11 months ago

    How come there is no mention of Jim Thome playing for the Dodgers when he was claimed of waviers for the playoff run in 2009

  22. NoAZPhilsPhan 11 months ago

    2018 HoF inductee for sure

    • Metsfan93 11 months ago

      That’s gonna be a tough ballot to crack, just with first-timers. Chipper is definitely a first-timer, and there’s also other interesting names there sure to garner votes: Rolen and Andruw Jones (for the actually deserving ones) and a large contingent of compilers (Vizquel, Damon, Moyer) with high hit/win totals and Johan Santana’s dominance. The backlog is only going to lose those elected (/hopefully/ Vlad, Piazza, Biggio, Johnson, Smoltz, Raines, Bagwell, Pedro by then) and the four falling off the ballot (McGwire, Trammell, Smith, Mattingly)… So even if everyone I mentioned gets elected by the 2017 ballot and those four fall off, it still leaves a 2018 ballot of Walker, Schilling, Mussina, Kent, Sheffield, Edmonds, Hoffman, Wagner, Posada, Ramirez, I-Rod, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, McGriff, Chipper, Andruw, Rolen, Thome, Damon, Moyer, Santana, Vizquel. I’m even being optimistic that Vlad goes first ballot and that Bagwell, Smoltz, and Piazza all make the climb by then.

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