On Wednesday the Hall of Fame officially announced the 2014 inductee class. The inductees, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, were all extremely deserving. Though as with most committee selections there were snubs, outcries of missed enshrinements, and near misses (Craig Biggio fell .2% shy of making it in; that’s 2 votes short with there being over 500 ballots). The one player that the A’s can lay some claim to is The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. Although it was a short time period during Thomas’ two stays with Oakland he was a major part in the team’s success during that time.
Frank Thomas signed with the A’s in January of 2006 for $500,000 as a base salary (the contract ended up having $2.6 million worth of incentives as well). The contract will arguably go down as the best (if not top 5) contract GM Billy Beane has ever signed strictly based on the sheer value of the return. Thomas put up a robust .270/.381/.545 slash line (batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage) to go along with 39 HR and 114 RBI. To put that into perspective he is the last A’s player to hit over 35 HR or have 100 RBI. That was in 2006 or seven seasons ago. He also finished fourth in the MVP voting.
Thomas’ 2006 season was not only remarkable, but it also helped lead the A’s to the postseason for the first time since 2003 and the last time until 2012. His leadership was equally as valuable as the numbers he put up. He kept Milton Bradley as under wraps as one could possibly do while also cementing a lineup that also featured Eric Chavez, Nick Swisher, and Mark Ellis. Not only was his leadership and numbers valuable, but his presence as well for the fan base was huge in keeping a tumultuous fan/team relationship afloat. The Big Hurt was more like the brother.
Frank Thomas had a second stint with the A’s though it never was close to living up to the standards set by that 2006 season. That season was so good that even Thomas mentioned it Wednesday after being notified he had been selected to the Hall of Fame.
“Thomas on ’06 bounce-back year with [Athletics]: ‘The year that really got me in the HOF today was 2006.’ [He] said it rejuvenated his career,” John Shea mentioned on Twitter today.
Thomas will always be remembered for the entirety of his career rather than just the 2006 season (obviously), but that does not take away its’ meaning to A’s fans. The White Sox got the bulk of his career, but the A’s got the best value. Although he will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame wearing a White Sox hat, the A’s will always have that one season. Congratulations Frank Thomas on a great career and being enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.