We continue on today with our new series slated to run through the next several months of the offseason, taking a look back at each of the 50 players who suited up for the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2017 season. We’ll recap their 2017 campaign with an eye looking forward to 2018 as well, as we remember an unexpected and exciting 2017 season at Miller Park.
ERIC THAMES – 1B
THE NUMBERS: Thames tied for the team lead in home runs in 2017, blasting 31 of them, and also led the ballclub in walks with 75. He appeared in 138 games for Milwaukee, batting .247/.359/.518, collecting 26 doubles and four triples to go along with his 31 homers. He scored 83 runs and drove in 63.
SEASON REVIEW: The Brewers were thinking outside the box when they signed Thames to a three-year contract last season after he had spent the previous three years playing in the Korean Baseball Organization, but the move payed off as he put up big power numbers and saw the bulk of the starts at first base in 2017. Thames got off to a scorching start to the season, batting .365 with 11 home runs in the month of April. He cooled off in May, then really struggled in June, hitting just .163 in 26 games. He picked things back up in July, batting .284 with four home runs, then struggled again in August, batting .173. He finished his first season in Milwaukee strong however, hitting .328 in the month of September.
A left-handed hitting power-hitter who last saw big league time with the Seattle Mariners in 2012, Thames proved to be worth every penny the Brewers spent to bring him back to the states early in the year, providing some extra thump in the middle of the order. As pitchers became more wary of him, Thames struggled some and needed to make adjustments, but he finished the year on a high note and showed a patient approach near the top of Milwaukee’s lineup. He was the left-handed hitting side of a first base platoon that also featured Jesus Aguilar and contributed some in the outfield as well as the Brewers looked to find ways to keep his bat in the lineup.
GAME OF THE YEAR: Thames had three separate games in which he belted two home runs in 2017, doing in twice against Cincinnati and a third time against Baltimore, but his most memorable performance included a walk-off blast against the San Diego Padres on June 16th as Milwaukee topped San Diego 6-5 in ten innings. Batting second and playing first base, Thames finished the game 3-for-5 with a double and a thrilling tenth inning blast off of left-hander Ryan Buchter that left Miller Park rocking.
OVERALL GRADE: B
OUTLOOK FOR 2018: The production that Milwaukee got from their first base position in 2017 was solid and they’ll likely head into 2018 with a similar plan, with Thames and Aguilar sharing duties there. Being a left-handed hitter, Thames should again earn the bulk of the playing time at first and his willingness to work the count, as well as his plus power, make him a valuable piece of the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers puzzle.