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Happy Birthday Frank Thomas

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Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training - February 22, 2007 Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

It’s Hall of Famer Frank Thomas turns 53 today.

Frank was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, his first time on the ballot. He played 19 seasons, mainly for the White Sox, hitting .301/.419/.555 with 521 home runs. He was AL MVP twice and received MVP votes 11 times. His 73.9 career bWAR puts him 54th all-time among position players and 83rd among all players.

His Blue Jays connection happened late in his career.

The Jays signed Frank Thomas to a two-year deal, plus a vesting option for a 3rd year before the 2007 season when he turned 39. Frank had had a good 2007, hitting .277/.377/.480, with 29 home runs. Then he started 2008 slowly, hitting just .167/.306/.333 in his first 72 at-bats. Thomas was a notoriously slow starter for much of his career. As late as June 3rd, 2007, Frank was hitting just .217. After that, he went on a roll.

So when he started slowly in 2008, most of us figured he’d get it together at some point, but once and future Jays manager John Gibbons decided Frank should sit on the bench. Frank did not react well. Here is how Hugo put it at the time:

Thomas did not shake hands with his teammates after the game and spoke angrily to reporters, indicating his belief that the decision was based on money, not putting the best team on the field.

Frank figured the Jays benched him so that he wouldn’t reach the number of at-bats needed to vest his option for the next season. I’m sure he was right. They replaced Frank that night with Joe Inglett, a nice enough player but not someone you would want at DH.

Hugo put up a poll, and most BBBers didn’t think releasing Frank was a good move. We were wrong, Frank didn’t play in 2009, and his career was over. It saved the Jays $10 million for 2009.

In his prime, he was one of the best in baseball. He had a combination of great power, a terrific eye at the plate (10 seasons with over 100 walks), and a good batting average.

Happy birthday Frank. I hope it is a good one.

It is also Jacob Brumfield’s birthday. He turns 56 today.

Jacob was a right-handed hitting outfielder. He played seven seasons in the majors, three of them with the Jays.

He played for the Jays in 1996 and 1997 and then part of 1999.

We first picked him up in a trade from the Pirates (for DJ Boston). In 1996 he played in 90 games, hitting .256/.316/.448 with 12 home runs in 90 games, playing all three of the outfield spots.

1997 didn’t go as well. Jacob hit .207/.268/.282 in 58 games. After the season, he was a free agent, and we re-signed him and then released him during spring training. After that, he signed with the Marlins but didn’t play with them. Then before the 1999 season, he signed with the Dodgers and started the season there, hitting .294/.294/.412 in 18 games before the Dodgers DFAed him, and we picked him up off waivers. He’d play 62 games and hit .235/.307/.353 with 2 home runs, which was the end of his MLB career.

As a Jay, he played 210 games and hit .238/.301/.379 with 16 home runs. In total, he played 568 games, hit .257/.318/.393 with 32 home runs and 74 steals with four teams.

I don’t remember much about him. He split time with Otis Nixon in CF and played some right when Shawn Green was injured. He was a pretty good defensive player, but he didn’t hit enough to be a full-time outfielder.

Happy Birthday, Jacob.