Even in the context of one of the greatest offensive ages in gaming history, Frank Thomas’s numbers are staggering.
One combination, however, stands out: No other man in baseball history has stringed together seven straight seasons of 20-plus home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 walks and a .300 average. neither ruth, nor gehrig, nor williams.
Born May 27, 1968, in Columbus, Ga., Thomas starred in baseball and football in high school, but was not drafted in his first year eligible for the MLB draft in 1986. Thomas then enrolled in the Auburn University intending to play football, and the 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end caught three passes as a freshman that fall.
but thomas still yearned to play baseball and shone for auburn in 1987, hitting .359. He played for the United States team in the Pan American Games that summer, then got injured playing soccer in the fall.
From then on, Thomas was a baseball player.
thomas was named the most valuable player in the southeastern conference in his 1989 junior season, leaving school that summer when the white sox drafted him seventh overall. A year later, Thomas made his major league debut as an august callout, batting .330 with 31 RBIs in 60 games. he would remain installed as the White Sox’s first baseman/DH for the next 15 years and quickly earned the nickname “the big damage” for the damage he inflicted on opposing pitchers.
In his first full season in 1991, Thomas batted .318 with 32 home runs, 104 runs scored, 109 RBIs and an American league-leading 138 walks and a .453 on-base percentage. After leading the league in doubles, walks and on-base percentage in 1992, Thomas won his first MVP award the following year with a .317 average, 41 home runs and 128 RBIs for a White Sox team. won the west title. he was a unanimous pick in the mvp voting, getting all 28 first place votes.
The following year, Thomas was even better, hitting .353 with a league-best 38 home runs, 101 RBIs and 106 runs scored in just 113 games in that strike-shortened season. He was again named MVP, becoming the sixth American League player (after Jimmie Foxx, Hal Newhouser, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris) to win consecutive Most Valuable Player awards.
thomas continued to rack up numbers in the 1990s and won a batting title in 1997 with a .347 average. His streak of seven consecutive seasons of 100 RBIs, 100 walks, 20 home runs and a .300 average ended the following year, but Thomas recorded another such season in 2000, leaving him with eight in his career.
only babe ruth (12) and lou gehrig (9) ever had more, and only ted williams and barry bonds had that many.
thomas battled injuries in 2001, 2004 and 2005; He failed to appear in half of Chicago’s games in any of those seasons. After the 2005 season, where the White Sox won the World Series despite Thomas appearing in only 34 games, the White Sox bought out the remainder of Thomas’ contract and parted ways with their all-time leader in runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, and walks.
Thomas moved on to the A’s and then the Blue Jays, where he totaled 65 home runs and 209 RBIs in two seasons, from 2006 to 2007. Injuries slowed him down in 2008 at the age of 40 and he retired in February 2010 after missing the 2009 season.
his final numbers: 521 home runs with five seasons with at least 40 home runs; 1,704 RBIs, a .301 career batting average from him with a .419 on-base percentage, including four seasons in which he led the league in obp; 1,667 walks with four league-leading seasons in walks; five all-star game selections; four silver slugger awards; and nine top 10 finishes in al mvp voting, including back-to-back wins for him in 1993 and 1994.
thomas was elected to the hall of fame in 2014.