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Thursday, April 20, 2017

How is free swinger Eric Thames crushing his second act?

The problem? He swung at everything. And it almost cost him everything. But he’s back and emerging as the biggest surprise of the 2017 season. How did he climb back for this second act that most players never get?

“Plate discipline,” Thames said, simply. “I learned in Korea that they won’t challenge you as much as they do in the minor leagues and [majors]. And maintaining the strike zone and swinging at strikes, that’s like the ultimate goal for everybody.”

Thames signed with the NC Dinos of the South Korean League, then spent the next three seasons putting up Ruthian numbers on the other side of the globe. All told, he hit .349/.451/.721 with 124 homers, 382 RBIs and 64 steals in Korea, but Thames wasn’t just dominating lesser competition; he was working on his game, making it more pliable for a return to the States. Part of it was metrics. Or at least one metric: Thames started to track the number of pitches he chased out of the zone, and mixed that with a little self-motivating tool.

“Starting in Korea, every time I chase, I put a dollar in the pot and I donate it at the end of the year,” Thames said. “It’s a challenge. I was a guy that swung at everything, so many balls out of the zone early on in my career. It’s a big thing. That’s why I couldn’t handle it in Seattle. It’s why I got sent down.”

He’s been really impressive to watch so far.  I also like how this article is framed around comparing this approach with Tim Anderson.


 

 

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