Career w/Phillies: .260 AVG / 96 HR / 266 RBI / 0 SB
When the Phillies signed Jim Thome over Thanksgiving 2002, the statement was clear: The Phillies were big-time players, and wanted to open their new ballpark with a herculean star. Turned out, however, there was another in line for that job.
Thome, of course, entered with the weight of the city on his Bunyonesque shoulders, and he delivered, bashing 47 home runs for an 86-win team that finished five out of the Wild Card. Sure the Phils were a good team, but just not good enough, and so the focus switched from closing out Veterans Stadium with a title to opening Citizens Bank Park with one. A repeat performance came from Thome in 2004, and despite having one of the best offenses in baseball, the Phils again won 86. With Charlie Manuel at the helm and newcomers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard set to electrify the offense, 2005 could’ve been the year. But it wasn’t. And for Thome, it was the end – a season-ending surgery sat him for Howard, who exploded to a Rookie of the Year win. Thome was shipped out to Chicago after 2005, but his time in Philly will be remembered.
Comment: A huge favorite upon arrival, Thome is one of the nicest men to ever have played baseball. He also knocked his 400th home run at Citizens Bank Park. For a few years, he was the man in Philly, and was supposed to lead the Phils to the promised land. Although he didn’t, in a way, he helped. And heck, you’ll still see Thome jerseys scattered at the Vault today. Three cheers for Bunyon himself.